Mr. Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Airpeace airlines with its headquarter in Nigeria. Allen who was born in Warri, Delta state Nigeria has been indicted by the United States Department of Justice in bank fraud and money laundering.
While this is coming as a shocker it is not new considering the apprehension Obinwanne (Invictus Obi) Okeke of Forbe’s under 30, 100 Most Influential Young Africans 2018.
Mr. Allen who is highly respected in Nigeria for the role he played during the Xenophobic attacks on Nigerian living in South African was arrested for alleged fraud to the tune of more than 20 million dollars that is N7.2 billion.
The CEO was arrested alongside the Airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Mrs. Ejiroghene Eghagha, on charges of bank fraud and identity theft.
Chief of Administration and Finance Mrs. Ejiro Eghagha
In a press statement released by the US Department of Justice, it said: “Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud”.
It added that “Onyema setup various innocent-sounding multi-million dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam”.
The statement also states that the airline founder had traveled to the United States to purchase multiple airplanes for the airline, however over $3 million of the funds used to purchase the crafts came from the foundations he set up with supporting document which turned out to be fake.
Mr. Allen and Ejiroghene are been charged with 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 while Mrs. Eghagha who is 37 years of age is also been charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.
Onyema founded Air Peace in 2013 and according to the DOJ the airline boss set up foundations meant to spread peace: Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, and All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited but In 2016, Onyema and Eghagha allegedly used a series of export letters of credit (LOC) to cause banks to transfer more than $20 million into Atlanta-based bank accounts Onyema owned.
The LOCs were meant to fund the purchase of five Boeing 737 passenger planes by Air Peace, though the CEO and the Chief of Administration and Finance 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 it’s alleged by the DOJ all the documents were fake.
It also turned out that the Springfield Aviation Company LLC is owned by Onyema who is 56 years and managed by a person with no connection to the aviation business, while Eghagha used the Springfield Aviation manager’s identity to further the fraud by signing and sending false documents to banks.
The U.S Department of Justice further informed members of the public that the indictment only contains charges and they are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
See full statement below.