Allen Onyema, 56, the founder of Air Peace, has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering for moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through U.S bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.
Air Peace’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, 37, 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 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.
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court: 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. In years following the founding of Air Peace, he traveled to the United States and purchased multiple airplanes for the airline.
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. However, the supporting documents were fake.
After Onyema received the money, he allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds of the fraud by transferring it to other accounts.
Onyema and Eghagha 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.”