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CEO Of Airpeace Indicted For Bank Fraud And Money Laundering In America

CEO Of Airpeace Indicted For Bank Fraud And Money Laundering In America
Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, the Chairman of Air Peace, a Nigerian airline, has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering.
According to the information, the airline boss was indicted with bank fraud and money laundering for moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.

In addition to this, Ejiroghene Eghagha, the airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance has also been charged with bank fraud and committing aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.

Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “We will diligently protect the integrity our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business.

Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented on the indictment, “Allen Onyema’s status as a wealthy businessman turned out to be a fraud. He corrupted the U.S. banking system, but his trail of deceit and trickery came to a skidding halt. DEA would like to thank the many law enforcement partners and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office who aided in making this investigation a success.

This case is a prime example of why IRS-CI seeks to partner and leverage its expertise in an effort to thwart those seeking to exploit our nation’s financial system,” said Thomas J. Holloman, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office. “With the importance of our banking system to the movement of money around the world, those attempting to use intricate schemes to commit bank fraud through the use of falsified documents and other means should know that the odds are now heavily stacked against them as law enforcement is combining its talents to protect the sanctity and integrity of the nation’s financial system.

Onyema setup various innocent sounding multi-million dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama. “I’m proud to be part of a team of law enforcement agencies that come together to identify and attack criminals that attempt to profit from the exploitation of our nation’s financial systems.

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court: Onyema, a Nigerian citizen and businessman, is the founder and Chairman of several organisations that purport to promote peace across Nigeria, including the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, and All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited.

A breakdown of the alleged fraud and money laundering

• Mr. Onyema started frequenting Atlanta in 2010, where he opened several bank accounts (both personal and business)
• In a period of 8 years (between 2010 and 2018), over $44.9 million was allegedly transferred into his Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources
• He set up several foundations that purport to promote peace across Nigeria, including; All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited, Foundation for Ethnic Harmony and International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development.
• He founded Air Peace in 2013
• In 2014, he travelled to the United States and purchased multiple aeroplanes for the airline
• Over $3 million of the funds used to purchase the aircraft allegedly came from bank accounts for  his foundations
• In 2016, Onyema collaborated with the airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Eghagha and allegedly used a series of export letters of credit to cause banks to transfer more than $20 million into Atlanta-based bank accounts controlled by Onyema. 
• The letters of credit were purportedly to fund the purchase of five separate Boeing 737 passenger planes by Air Peace. 
• The duo used supporting documents like purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals to prove that Air Peace was purchasing the aircraft from a company called Springfield Aviation Company LLC
• The United States Department of Justice however alleges that the supporting documents were fake.
• It also said that Springfield Aviation Company LLC never owned the aircrafts sold to Air Peace and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did non-existing.
• Eghagha allegedly participated in this scheme as well by directing the Springfield Aviation manager to sign and send false documents to banks and even using the manager’s identity to further the fraud. 
• Onyema after receiving the money, allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds of the fraud by transferring it to other accounts.

Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, 56, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Ejiroghene Eghagha, 37, of Lagos, Nigeria, were indicted on November 19, 2019 on:

• One count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud
• Three counts of bank fraud 
• One count of conspiracy to commit credit application fraud
• Three counts of credit application fraud. 

Additionally, Onyema was charged with 27 counts of money laundering, and Eghagha was charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.

Also remember that the defendants are innocent until proven guilty of the charges. For now, the indictment only contain charges.

See AlsoMompha, Sues EFCC, Demands ₦5m Compensation For ‘Unlawful Detention’.
Source| Justice.gov
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