By Chinedu Eze
The Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has said that the allegations of money laundering and bank fraud leveled against him by the US Department of Justice, Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia on Friday, were strange and unfounded, and vowed to vigorously defend himself in court.
A statement from Onyema’s solicitors, A.O. Alegeh & Co., Legal Practitioners, stated that the Air Peace CEO denied all the allegations and looks forward to an opportunity to rebut these allegations in Court.
“We hereby state that he (Onyema) strongly denies and will vigorously defend himself against the allegations made against him by the US Attorney in Atlanta, Georgia in relation to purchase of aircraft, aircraft spares and aircraft maintenance. None of the allegations involve any third party funds but relate to his funds utilised in the airline business. There is no allegation that any Bank (in the United States, Nigeria or elsewhere), Company or individual suffered any financial or any loss whatsoever,” the statement said.
The lawyers also noted that Onyema “has a track record 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.”
In the same vein, the solicitors said the Executive Director, Air Peace Limited, Mrs. Ejiro Eghagha, had also strongly denied same allegatiosn and would vigorously defend herself against the allegations in court.
“Mrs Ejiro Eghagha has built her reputation as a seasoned, honest and responsible person and will take all necessary steps to clear her good name and hard earned reputation. She looks forward to an opportunity to rebut these allegations in Court,” the statement said.
Onyema had earlier denied the allegations and said they were not in line with his character as a person and businessman.
“I can confirm to you that all allegations are false and are in no way in line with my character as a person and as a business man whose only aim has been to build Nigeria and improve wellbeing.
“As the press statement clearly stated, these are indictment that only contains charges. I am innocent of all charges and the US government will find NO dirt on me because I have never conducted business with any illegalities.
“Be rest assured that I also have my lawyers on this and these mere allegations will be refuted. I never laundered money in my life, neither have I committed bank fraud anywhere in the world. Every Kobo I transferred to the US for aircraft purchase went through the Central Bank of Nigeria LC regime and all were used for the same purpose. The American companies that received the funds are still in business. I never took a penny from any US bank or Nigerian bank. I am willing to defend my innocence in the US courts,” he said.
The US Department of Justice had on November 19, 2019 indicted “Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, 56, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Ejiroghene Eghagha, 37, of Lagos, Nigeria” 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.