Air Peace boss, Onyema, denies alleged fraud in U.S.
Court Issues Warrant Of Arrest Against Him
The Chairman of Air Peace Airline, Allen Onyema, yesterday, denied allegations of fraud and money laundering levelled against him and his Head of Finance and Administration, Ejiro Eghagha, by the United States Department of Justice.
Onyema, in a statement issued by his attorney, denied the allegation and said plans were on to “vigorously defend” themselves against the charges.
The federal authorities in the United States alleged that the Nigerian businessman was the mastermind of a series of alleged fraudulent bank transactions spanning several years between the two countries.The money laundering and bank fraud charges against Onyema, whose Air Peace Airlines is a major player in local aviation, were filed by the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
The United States Department of Justice announced the allegations against Onyema on Friday night, saying he had been charged alongside Eghagha.The statement signed by A.O. Alegeh & Co., started that in relation to the alleged fraud on aircraft and spares’ purchase, “there is no allegation that any bank in the United States, Nigeria or elsewhere, company or individual suffered any financial or any loss whatever.”
“The allegations are unfounded and strange to him. Allen Onyema has a track record that is built on honesty and integrity and will take all necessary steps to clear his good name and hard earned reputation. He looks forward to an opportunity to rebut these allegations in court,” the statement read in part.
The U.S. full allegation is contained in a 36-page report. The document showed that Onyema was indicted by a United States federal grand jury following a lengthy investigation by law enforcement agents.
The court filings said Onyema’s suspicious moving of funds began in 2010 when he used a string of foundations he had set up to open bank accounts in the United States.
Subsequently, Onyema allegedly started moving funds from his foundations to conduct commercial transactions on behalf of his airlines and other businesses that federal authorities later found to be fictitious.He allegedly issued several fraudulent letters of credit to American banks through banks in Nigeria to purchase aircraft and equipment. American banks used included Bank of America and Wells Fargo and Bank of Montreal in Canada.
Onyema, whose national profile recently skyrocketed following his decision to fly stranded Nigerians back home from South Africa, also indulged in regular procurement of exotic vehicles and expensive fashion accessories, the indictment showed.Meanwhile, a United States court has issued a warrant of arrest against him. The warrant was signed by Justin Anand, an American magistrate of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Georgia.
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