US in­dicts founder of Nige­rian air­line

The National - News - - BUSINESS -

The founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of one of Nige­ria’s largest air­lines, Air Peace, has been in­dicted by the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice on charges of bank fraud and money laun­der­ing for the al­leged il­le­gal move­ment of more than $20 mil­lion (Dh73.46m), the depart­ment said.

Allen Onyema was ac­cused of trans­fer­ring the money from Nige­ria through US bank ac­counts in a scheme in­volv­ing false doc­u­ments based on the pur­chase of air­planes, the jus­tice depart­ment said in a state­ment dated November 22.

The air­line’s chief of ad­min­is­tra­tion and fi­nance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, has also been charged with bank fraud and iden­tity theft in con­nec­tion with the al­leged scheme, the state­ment said.

Both Onyema and Eghagha de­nied any wrong­do­ing in state­ments is­sued by their lawyers, adding that they would de­fend them­selves against the al­le­ga­tions.

“Onyema al­legedly lever­aged his sta­tus as a prom­i­nent business leader and air­line ex­ec­u­tive while us­ing fal­si­fied doc­u­ments to com­mit fraud,” US At­tor­ney

Allen Onyema was ac­cused of laun­der­ing money from Nige­ria through US bank ac­counts

Byung J. Pak was quoted as say­ing by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice.

Le­gal firm AO Alegeh & Co said “the al­le­ga­tions are un­founded and strange”, in state­ments on be­half of each of the ac­cused.

It added they both looked for­ward to “an op­por­tu­nity to re­but these al­le­ga­tions in court”.

Air Peace, founded by Onyema in 2010, flies to des­ti­na­tions across Nige­ria as well as in­ter­na­tional routes to other West African coun­tries in­clud­ing Ghana, Sierra Leone and Sene­gal.

Onyema, 56, of La­gos, and Eghagha, 37, also of La­gos, were in­dicted on November 19 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, the depart­ment.

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

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