The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reportedly quizzed the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Ifechukwu Onyeama.
Naija News reports that Onyema was charged with bank fraud and money laundering for moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of aeroplanes.
In a statement on Friday, the US State Department of Justice said Onyema’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, 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 airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud. We will diligently protect the integrity of our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak, said.
Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division, said: “Allen Onyema’s status as a wealthy businessman turned out to be a fraud. He corrupted the U.S. banking system, but his trail of deceit and trickery came to a skidding halt. DEA would like to thank the many law enforcement partners and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office who aided in making this investigation a success.”
The Air Peace boss has however denied the indictment by the United State Government.
It was gathered that Onyema, who was quizzed and granted administrative bail on Wednesday, is under the surveillance OF the EFCC.
A reliable source told The Nation that the invitation of Onyema was part of the ongoing collaboration with the FBI and other security networks working on the alleged $44.9 million wire deals in which Onyema, his Finance Officer Ejiroghene Eghagha and two banks were implicated.
“Our team of detectives on Wednesday interacted with Onyema in our Lagos office on the wire deals, especially on issues involving money laundering,” the source said.
“The questioning was part of our ongoing collaboration with the FBI and other agencies in line with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between Nigeria and the United States.
“We decided to release Onyema on administrative bail in deference to his constitutional right of innocence until proven guilty.
“But Onyema is on surveillance by the EFCC pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation.”
Speaking on why the EFCC opted to interrogate Onyema after charges have been preferred against him and Ejiroghene Eghagha in the United States, the source added: “There are vital Nigerian components of the indictment and demands of the US Government.
“For instance, the US is seeking the forfeiture of over $13 million left in some accounts linked with the suspect in the United States and Canada. The funds are $4,017,852.51 in JP Morgan Chase Bank in the US and $4,593,842.05 and $5,634,842.04 in the Bank of Montreal, Canada.
“We cannot rule out some of the money in some accounts in Nigeria. And our investigation may reveal the identities of other accomplices. Also, two Nigerian banks have been mentioned in the wire deals, especially transactions on purchase of aircraft.
“If there are assets to be seized in Nigeria, we have to collaborate with the US Government on the forfeiture process.”