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Since Friday last week, Nigerian media outfits both respected and not, from print, electronic, radio stations to online platforms had been unprecedented on use and abuse of a mere charge sheet filed by a United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, alleging that Chief Allen Onyema, ordinarily evaded taxes payable from his genuinely made dollars that are transfered from Nigeria to US for purchase of aircrafts.
It is important to note that Chief Onyema, a lawyer and founder of leading Nigeria carrier, Air Peace Airlines, is only facing charges and not yet tried not to talk of being convicted.
However, the body languages of both respected Nigerian media and otherwise, had suddenly assumed the position of US Chief Justice and had even delivered judgment of guilty as charged on the Ihiala, Anambra State-born aviation investor.
This is where Business Hilights Media Group painfully remembers the sudden passing away of former Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Barr. Chris Iwarah.
Iwarah, a Delta State-born image chief and media management czar, died from injuries he sustained from an accident at a Bus Stop (Mangoro) along Lagos – Abeokuta expressway on Friday, June 7, 2019.
According to an eye witness account, Iwarah had parked his car to fix a fault at the bus stop when a big passenger bus (popularly called Molue), believed to have had brake failure rammed unto him and knocked him down.
More than six months after Iwarah’s death, several media outfits are yet to be aware of any replacement for late Iwarah to keep up the managment of Air Peace corporate communications. Experts believe that had Chief Onyema made a credible replacement, by now, he would not have been struggling to combine his charirmanship job of the company with another demanding job of image and PR affairs with an unknown Ikoyi based law firm since Friday the US news broke.
Besides, ongoing unprecedented media fireworks on the US allegations have shown that it is important for ‘Too Big To Fail Companies’ to be mindful of appointments they make in their corporate divisions considering times like this at Air Peace.
Worst to the situation on hand is a terse statement issued by the Ikoyi law firm, A.O. Alegeh & Co., Legal Practitioners & Notaries Public which its first statement said “On behalf of Allen Onyema, we hereby state that he 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.”
Core PR experts can agree with Business Hilights that it would have been better the law firm, in collaboration with the Corporate Communications of Air Peace to jointly addressed the media than issuing a statement that failed to explain the meaning of IRS charges to Nigerians who are now misinterpreting the entire issue.
Investigations showed that since Friday till today, Monday, there had not been any from of press release from the Corporate Communications Division of Air Peace, rather what is flying up and down in the media include a private but personal response by Chief Onyema and the terse statement from a hurriedly hired Ikoyi law firm instead of a strategic media managment team manning the crisis as it unfolds with timely issuance of important details to keep the anxious public infromed as events unfonds.
However, fact checks by the Business Hilights New York Bureau chief, who filed in key part of this report on Sunday made it clear that “The so called “Fraud” indictment of Air Peace Chairman is as a result of issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); the revenue service of the United States federal government. That is the extent which the “fraud indictment,” covers.
The report explained that when real trial begins and ends with conviction, he will only be liable to paying his Tax obligation which he may have forgotten by oversight.
According to the Bureau chief report, “Many US firms often go through such conflated conflagration. The current US president is currently at the Supreme Court of the United States fighting to keep his tax documents secret. If the SCOTUS rules against him, he will most negotiate a way out to avoid incarceration.
Besides, many analysts in the United States say the hidden issue against Chief Onyema is the fact that he is a Black African; a billionaire black man contributing to humanity and succeeding where many have failed, thus subjecting him to being a global risk.
A lot of Nigerians in Georgia agree that what is happening is more like “targeting loopholes” than discovery of “concentrated fraud.”
Besides, the entire scenario was not created by his enemies in Nigeria as IRS doesn’t work with Nigeria or with Nigerian whistleblowers.
US based analysts also agreed that investigation is still ongoing. The funds didn’t come from US banks. The funds came from Nigeria and when you move funds between US banks, it is usually suspected to be “attempt at dodging certain levies” considering the name “Nigeria.”
Sometimes the banks will write you and invite you for interview. A busy foreign based business man with bank domains in the US may not always meet up the dates and time of his appointment. If this happens, his transactions are turned over to authorities. The blood of IRS is money!
In his remarks, Mr. Mike Ikem Umealo, an international finance analyst said, “Nothing more than that. It is not as if he defrauded any US bank or any other entity. Air Peace is a legitimate enterprise.”
Besides, a media expert, Mr. Sunday Michael Ugwu in a response said “We cannot disown Allen Onyema on a mere allegation.”
“It is interesting to see how we have convicted and passed judgement on the person of Allen Onyema before we even read the details of the U.S report or even allow a defense by Allen in the court of public opinion.
“It is not in our place to validate everything we hear because it was done from abroad. Especially were such a statement has not allowed for a right of response.
“In the statement of the lawyers to Allen, the said transactions were for the purchase of spare parts for his airline but this report has been crafted as some sort of theft or attempt to starch funds in some Cayman Islands.
“Let me recall some precedent, On December 1, 2018, Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the request of the United States for allegedly defrauding multiple financial institutions in breach of US imposed bans on dealing with Iran.
“Whatever the true situations may be, we also read that A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said that Beijing had separately called on the US and Canada to “clarify the reasons for the detention” immediately and “immediately release the detained person”.
“The spokesman said China had been providing consular assistance to Meng since learning of her arrest.
According to Ugwu, “Allen is to Nigeria, what Huawei is to China. I would have expected that an Initial defense of our countryman until further details are made available, it is not siding with crime because no one has the monopoly of spurious allegations.
Whereas there are chances that this trending allegation can have implications for the pending air peace direct flight to the U.S or even destinations that are strong U.S allies, it is important that Nigeria’s Attorney general and the Foreign Affairs minister or ministry, the Nigeria Fraud Intelligence Unit and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) be reviewing the process of the fund transfer or payment with a view to understanding what happened and were necessary issue the necessary statement of confidence.
Whatever way anybody may wish to align his or her thoughts, one thing is central; “It is not in any Nigerian interest to have Air Peace or Chief Barr. Allen Onyema as its proprietor becomes a “victim” of what may pass off as an error of omission or commission.”
Another look at the key pronouncement of the U.S attorney that “Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges,” is very important because “The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”
*IRS Court charges levied on Chief Allen Onyema:
ONYEMA transferred funds from his Nigerian bank accounts to his personal bank accounts in the United States
ONYEMA founded AIR PEACE
to purchase these aircraft came from accounts for All-time Peace Media Communications, Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, Every Child Limited, and International Center for Non-Violence. The total amount of funds from these accounts used to purchase aircraft for Air Peace exceeded $3,000,000.
Scheme TO Defraud
Letter of Credit One — FB16TLL00063
The letter of credit requested that Wells Fargo accepts as a transfer $1,682,184 for the benefit of Springfield Aviation. The purpose of the letter of credit was purportedly to fund Air Peace’s purchase of Boeing 28721 from Springfield Aviation, an aircraft already owned by Air Peace that was never owned by Springfield Aviation.
The letter of credit was identified as FB16ILL00063. The directions for the letter of credit state that “Documents must strictly conform with the terms and conditions of the attached letter of credit” and that “DOCUMENTS DATED PRIOR TO L/C OPENING DATE NOT
Letter of Credit Two – LCITF-17-00414
20, 2017, which purported to be a “full aircraft appraisal” by “JMI LLC” that estimated the current market value of the Boeing Aircraft as $5,500,000.
Letter of Credit Three – ILCCOCBG17O2932
The sale was consummated by two Bills of Sale, dated May 18, 2017, to Air Peace for the price of $3,600,000 for both aircraft.
Letter of Credit Four – LCITF-17-00555
The purpose of the letter of credit was purportedly to fund Air Peace’s purchase of Boeing 28660 from Springfield Aviation, an aircraft already owned by Air Peace. The letter of credit was identified as LCITF-17-00555. The directions for the letter of credit stated “Documents must strictly conform with the terms and conditions of the attached letter of credit” and “SHIPPING DOCUMENTS DATED PRIOR TO LC
ISSUANCE DATE OF 170421 ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.”
Letter of Credit Five – FB17ILCOO561C
The purpose of the letter was purportedly to fund Air Peace’s purchase of Boeing 28562 from Springfield Aviation, an aircraft already owned by Air Peace. The letter of credit was identified as FB17ILCOO561C. The directions for the letter of credit stated: “DOCUMENTS DATED PRIOR TO THE L/C OPENING DATE NOT ACCEPTABLE, EXCEPT THE PURCHASE AGREEMENT.”
Count Two Bank Fraud 18 U.S.C. §1344
Count Three Bank Fraud 18 U.S.C. § 1344
Count Four Bank Fraud 18 U.S.C. § 1344
Count Five Conspiracy to Commit Credit Application Fraud 18 U.S.C. §371
Manner and Means
iii. Commercial Invoice from Springfield Aviation to Air Peace, dated December 30, 2016;
iii. Valuation submitted on behalf of Springfield Aviation, dated March 20, 2017, which purported to be a “full aircraft
appraisal” by “JMI LLC” that estimated the current market value of the Boeing Aircraft as $5,500,000.
iii. Commercial Invoice from Springfield Aviation to Air Peace, dated October 11, 2017;
Count Six Credit Application Fraud 18 U.S.C. § 1014
Count Seven Credit Application Fraud 18 U.S.C. § 1014
Count Eight Credit Application Fraud 18 U.S.C. § 1014
Counts Nine through Thirty-Five Money Laundering 18 U.S.C. § 1957
Count Date (on or Monetary Transaction Originating Recipient about) Account Account
9 03/22/2017 Branch Transfer in the WF 8621 WF 0125 amount_of_$1,000,000.00
10 03/23/2017 Branch Transfer in the WE 8621 WF 0125 amount_of_$1,000,000.00
11 05/07/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount_of $500,000.00
12 05/07/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount_of $500,000.00
13 05/15/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 0125 amOunt_of $500,000.00
14 05/15/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WF 0125 amount_of $500,000.00
15 05/15/2017 Online Transfer in the WF 8621 WE 0125 amount_of $500,000.00
16 05/15/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 0125 amount_of $500,000.00
17 05/15/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 0125 amount_of $100,000.00
18 05/15/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount of $500,000.00
19 05/15/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount_of $500,000.00
Count Date (on or Monetary Transaction Originating Recipient about) Account Account
20 05/15/2017 Online Transfer in the WF 8621 WF 8020 amount_of_$500,000.00
21 05/15/2017 Online Transfer in the WF 8621 WF 8020 amount_of_$150,000.00
22 06/19/2017 Online Transfer in the ‘WF 8621 WF 8020 amount_of_$500,000.00
23 06/19/2017 Online Transfer in the WF 8621 WE 8020 amount_of $500,000.00
24 06/19/2017 Online Transfer in the WF 8621 WF 8020 amount_of_$500,000.00
25 06/19/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WF 8020 amount_of_$500,000.00
26 06/19/2017 Online Transfer in the WF 8621 WF 8020 amount_of_$500,000.00
27 06/19/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount_of_$500,000.00
28 06/19/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount_of_$500,000.00
29 06/19/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WF 8020 amount_of_$500,000.00
30 06/19/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WF 8020 ~ amount_of_$500,000.00
31 11/29/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 802 amount_of_$1,000,000.00
32 11/29/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount_of_$1,000,000.00
33 11/29/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount_of_$1,000,000.00
34 11/29/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount_of_$1,000,000.00
35 11/29/2017 Online Transfer in the WE 8621 WE 8020 amount_of_$890,000.00
All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957 and Section 2.
Count Thirty-Six Aggravated Identity Theft 18 U.S.C. §1028A(a)(1)
iii. $5,634,842.04 in funds held in Bank of Montreal Canada account number XXXXXXX?515 held in the name of
Bluestream Aero Services, Inc.
iii. $5,634,842.04 in funds held in Bank of Montreal Canada account number XXXXXXX7515 held in the name of Bluestream Aero Services, Inc.
iii. $5,634,842.04 in funds held in Bank of Montreal Canada account number XXXXXXX7515 held in the name of
Bluestream Aero Services, Inc.
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