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

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Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, the Chairman, CEO, and founder of Air Peace, a Nigerian airline, has been charged 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. The international airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, 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 organizations 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.

Beginning in 2010, Onyema began travelling frequently to Atlanta, where he opened several personal and business bank accounts. Between 2010 and 2018, over $44.9 million was allegedly transferred into his Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources.

Onyema is also the CEO and Chairman of Nigerian airline Air Peace, which he founded in 2013. In years following the founding of Air Peace, he traveled to the United States and purchased multiple airplanes for the airline. However, over $3 million of the funds used to purchase the aircraft allegedly came from bank accounts for Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited, and Every Child Limited.

Beginning in approximately May 2016, Onyema, together with Eghagha, 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 letters were supported by documents such as purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals proving that Air Peace was purchasing the aircraft from Springfield Aviation Company LLC, a business registered in Georgia.

However, the supporting documents were fake — Springfield Aviation Company LLC, which is owned by Onyema and managed by a person with no connection to the aviation business, never owned the aircraft, and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did not exist. Eghagha allegedly participated in this scheme as well, directing the Springfield Aviation manager to sign and send false documents to banks and even using the manager’s identity to further the fraud. After Onyema received the money in the United States, he 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, and 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.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Commerce, and Department of Treasury are investigating this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Garrett L. Bradford, Deputy Chief of the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section and Lead Strike Force Attorney, Irina K. Dutcher, and Christopher J. Huber, Deputy Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, are prosecuting the case, with assistance from the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Office of International Affairs.

This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime. The specific mission of the Atlanta Strike Force is to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering organizations designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets or Regional Priority Organization Targets and their affiliates impacting the Atlanta metropolitan area and the Northern District of Georgia.

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Bandits kill Army colonel, two soldiers in Katsina

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A Nigerian Army colonel, M.Z Manu and two soldiers have been killed by bandits in Unguwar Doka Village under Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State.

It was gathered that the bandits, armed with AK-47 rifles invaded the villages on Thursday night and started shooting indiscriminately. In the process, the gallant officer, soldiers and some civilians were killed.

The acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brig. General Benard Onyeuko, who confirmed the incident in a statement issued to journalists at the Special Army Super Camp IV Faskari, said troops of Operation Sahel Sanity responded to a distress call on September 24, 2020 that bandits attacked Unguwar Doka Village and swiftly mobilised to the area where they cleared the bandits.

During the encounter, troops neutralised 21 bandits while others escaped with gunshot into the forest as evident by the trails of blood along the criminals’ escape route.

 

The statement disclosed that the soldiers rescued three kidnapped victims, including an eight-month-old baby who had been in captivity for more than 23 days and recovered one AK-47 and three motorcycles from the fleeing hoodlums.

 

“Regrettably, resulting from the encounter with the bandits, one gallant officer and two soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice while two other soldiers were wounded in action and are currently receiving medical treatment in a military medical facility and responding positively,” said Onyeuko.

“The fearless troops have continued to pursue the bandits into the forest and dominating the general areas with aggressive fighting patrols to deny them any respite.” he added.

 

Meanwhile, the burial activities of Colonel Manu will hold today at army HQ, Zaria, Kaduna state.

 

Bandits kill Army colonel, two soldiers in Katsina

 

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Kanu Signs Up For Simba TVS

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Nigerian soccer legend, Kanu Nwankwo, was yesterday, unveiled as an ambassador for Simba TVS, distributors of Nigeria’s leading brands in the tricycle, motorcycle and power bike Sector.

 

Kanu said “I have the singular honour and privilege of endorsing and recommending their products. They are number one in their areas of business. Their quality and after sales service policy is demonstrated in their Workshops pan Nigeria”.  Simba TVS places strong emphasis on empowerment, and runs specific programs targeted at women, youths, welfare for the mechanics and rider communities.

 

Mr Mahendra Pratap,  Simba TVS – Business Head in Nigeria,  said “we are honored and humbled that, Kanu Nwankwo, is endorsing TVS King Tricycles and motorcycles, emphasizing that the two-time African player of the year embodied  their brand’s core values of Trust, Value and Service  “through his dedication to this great nation.

 

Kanu?Signs Up For?Simba?TVS

 

Group Head- Marketing -Simba Group, Mr KarthikGovindarajan, Simba’s association with Kanu Nwankwore presents one more step in the Group’s ongoing efforts at deepening their relationship with Nigerian football.

“As the official motorcycle and tricycle of the Super Eagles, Kanu’s endorsement is an inspiration in Simba TVS’s commitment to customer service and empowerment.

 

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Judicial workers to begin strike Monday

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Staff of the Federal High Court across the country have announced plans of engaging in a two-week strike from Monday September 28, 2020.

 

The judicial workers under the aegies of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) revealed that they are engaging in the strike in line with the industrial action planned by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over the increased prices of electricity and petroleum products.

 

The notice read;

 

“Please be informed that the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Federal High Court chapter shall, in collaboration with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), commences a two-week indefinite strike action from Monday the 28th day of September 2020.

“All offices shall remain closed within this period. You are required to comply.”

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