The founder and chief executive officer of Nigerian airline Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has been charged in the US with money laundering and bank fraud.

The bank fraud charges centre on the use of false documents to fraudulently obtain letters of credit (L/Cs).

Also indicted of fraud is Air Peace's chief of administration and finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, who is accused of committing aggravated identity theft.


An indictment prepared for the prosecutors alleges that in or around May 2016, Onyema and Eghagha used a series of export L/Cs to cause banks to transfer more than US$20 million into US-based bank accounts controlled by Onyema.

The L/Cs were purportedly to fund the purchase of five Boeing 737 passenger planes for Air Peace.

Fake documents

The accused obtained the L/Cs on the strength of documents including purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals apparently verifying that the Nigerian airline was purchasing the aircraft from a US supplier, Springfield Aviation Company.

But these documents were fake according to the indictment. It says Springfield Aviation Company is owned by Onyema and managed by a person with no connection with the aviation business and who never owned the aircraft, and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did not exist.

According to American officials and court documents, Onyema - who denies the allegations in the indictment - used the money buy a raft of luxury cars and designer goods.

This article represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of the ICC or Coastline Solutions.