Airline founder accused of financial institution fraud and laundering charity cash to buy jets, a Rolls Royce and Prada

Allen Onyema, 56, the chairman and founding father of Air Peace, is accused of shifting the cash from Nigeria and different assets via US financial institution accounts in a scheme that concerned organizations he based in his house country and false paperwork associated with the acquisition of airplanes, the USA Legal professional’s Workplace for the Northern District of Georgia introduced Friday.

“Onyema allegedly leveraged his standing as a outstanding industry chief and airline government whilst the usage of falsified paperwork to devote fraud,” US Legal professional Byung Pak stated in a information liberate. “We can diligently give protection to the integrity (of) our banking device from being corrupted by way of criminals, even if they hide themselves in a cloak of global industry.”

“Be leisure confident that I even have my attorneys in this and those mere allegations might be refuted,” Onyema stated. “I by no means laundered cash in my lifestyles, neither have I dedicated financial institution fraud anyplace on the planet. Each and every Kobo (of Nigerian foreign money) I transferred to the USA for airplane acquire went in the course of the Central Financial institution of Nigeria LC regime and all had been used for a similar objective.

“The American firms that won the price range are nonetheless in industry,” he mentioned. “I by no means took a penny from any US financial institution or Nigerian financial institution. I’m prepared to shield my innocence in the USA courts.”

Lawyers for Onyema later despatched a commentary to CNN by the use of a public family members company in Atlanta.

“On behalf of Allen Onyema, we hereby state that he strongly denies and can vigorously shield himself towards the allegations made towards him by way of the USA Legal professional in Atlanta, Georgia, with regards to acquire of airplane, airplane spares and airplane repairs,” the commentary stated. “Not one of the allegations contain any 3rd celebration price range however relate to his price range applied within the airline industry. There’s no allegation that any financial institution (in the USA, Nigeria or somewhere else), corporate or particular person suffered any monetary or any loss in any way. The allegations are unfounded and peculiar to him. Allen Onyema has a monitor document constructed on honesty and integrity and can take all essential steps to transparent his excellent title and hard-earned recognition. He seems to be ahead to a chance to rebut those allegations in Court docket.”

Onyema faces 27 counts of cash laundering, 3 counts of financial institution fraud, 3 counts of credit score software fraud and two conspiracy fees.

A warrant was once issued Tuesday for his arrest, the court docket document displays. CNN may just no longer straight away achieve Onyema for remark.

US accounts had been ‘alleged fronts for his rip-off’

A couple of decade in the past, Onyema, a Nigerian citizen, began touring continuously to Atlanta, the place he opened non-public and industry financial institution accounts, federal prosecutors’ commentary stated.

Between 2010 and 2018, about $45 million “was once allegedly transferred into his Atlanta-based accounts from overseas assets,” they stated. The sum integrated a number of circumstances of “loads of hundreds of bucks transferred without delay” from accounts for 4 organizations Onyema based to advertise peace in his house nation to a non-public checking account he shared together with his spouse, consistent with an indictment filed Tuesday.

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Onyema used cash in the ones accounts all the way through the length to pay for “non-public residing bills,” together with an armored Lexus LX570, a Rolls Royce and a Mercedes, plus for purchases at Prada, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Louis Vuitton and Apple retail outlets in Atlanta, the indictment states.

In 2013, Onyema based his airline and within the following years traveled to the USA and purchased planes, the commentary says. Greater than $three million used for the ones purchases allegedly got here from financial institution accounts of 4 of his organizations, which “purport to advertise peace throughout Nigeria,” the inside track liberate states.

Then in 2016, Onyema and an affiliate allegedly used faux letters of credit score and supporting paperwork to get banks to switch greater than $20 million to Atlanta-based financial institution accounts that he managed, then “allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds of the fraud by way of shifting it to different accounts,” the USA legal professional’s administrative center says.

“Onyema setup more than a few blameless sounding multi-million buck asset purchases that have been not anything greater than alleged fronts for his rip-off,” stated appearing Particular Agent in Fee Robert Hammer.

CNN’s Michelle Krupa contributed to this document.

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