Air Peace CEO Dr. Allen Onyema was a key member of the welcoming committee for Harry and Meghan when they touched down in Nigeria last week. He's pictured chatting with the Duchess

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were welcomed to Nigeria last week by a fugitive who has been federally indicted in the United States for allegedly orchestrating a $20million money laundering and bank fraud scheme, DailyMail.com can reveal.

Air Peace CEO and Chairman, Dr. Allen Onyema, whose airline the royals took for their flight from the nation’s capital Abuja into its largest city Lagos on May 12 was a key member of the welcoming committee that met the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they touched down on the tarmac as part of their three-day-tour of Nigeria.

Dressed in navy and wearing shades and a red kufi hat, Onyema was one of a small group of dignitaries, which included senior military and government officials, photographed alongside the Sussexes as they deboarded their Air Peace aircraft. 

Founded by Onyema just over a decade ago, Air Peace flies internationally and is the largest airline in West Africa.

Now, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned that the 59-year-old businessman is a wanted man in the United States, facing multiple charges linked to millions of dollars’ worth of alleged fraud set down in a federal indictment filed in November 2019.

Air Peace CEO Dr. Allen Onyema was a key member of the welcoming committee for Harry and Meghan when they touched down in Nigeria last week. He's pictured chatting with the Duchess

Air Peace CEO Dr. Allen Onyema was a key member of the welcoming committee for Harry and Meghan when they touched down in Nigeria last week. He’s pictured chatting with the Duchess

Dressed in navy and wearing shades and a red kufi hat, Onyema was one of a small group of dignitaries, which included senior military and government officials, photographed alongside the Sussexes as they deboarded their Air Peace aircraft

Dressed in navy and wearing shades and a red kufi hat, Onyema was one of a small group of dignitaries, which included senior military and government officials, photographed alongside the Sussexes as they deboarded their Air Peace aircraft

The indictment, obtained by DailyMail.com, accuses Onyema of allegedly ‘using his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive to launder more than $20million from Nigeria through US bank accounts’.

There is no suggestion that either Harry or Meghan were aware of Onyema’s history before they met him.

DailyMail.com also understands that the couple had planned to use a different airline but plans were changed at the last minute. 

The charges were filed by former US Attorney Byung J ‘BJay’ Pak who has since left office. The case is now being pursued by US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Ryan Buchanan who took over the role in 2022.

Speaking at the time of filing Pak said of the man who gladhanded the Sussex’s during their ‘private’ tour of his country, ‘Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud.’

Robert Murphy, the agent in charge of the DEA Atlanta field division added: ‘Allan Onyema’s status as a wealthy businessman turned out to be a fraud. He corrupted the US banking system, but his trail of deceit and trickery came to a skidding halt.’

The indictment goes on to allege that Onyema set up various ‘innocent sounding multi-million-dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam’.

It states that Onyema is the founder and chairman of several organizations across Nigeria, including the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development and All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited.

DailyMail.com has exclusively learned that the 59-year-old businessman is wanted in the United States for a bank fraud scheme.

Between 2010 and 2018 over $44.9million was allegedly transferred Onyema's Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources

Between 2010 and 2018 over $44.9million was allegedly transferred Onyema’s Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources

There is no suggestion that either Harry or Meghan were aware of Onyema's history before they met him. Meghan is pictured being greeted by Onyema

There is no suggestion that either Harry or Meghan were aware of Onyema’s history before they met him. Meghan is pictured being greeted by Onyema 

Beginning in 2010 he began traveling frequently to Atlanta where he opened several personal and business bank accounts.

Between 2010 and 2018 over $44.9million was allegedly transferred into his Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources.

Onyema founded Air Peace in 2013 and, according to the indictment, traveled to the United States in following years and purchased multiple airplanes.

Onyema is accused of using his status as a prominent business leader to launder more than $20million from Nigeria through US bank accounts

Onyema is accused of using his status as a prominent business leader to launder more than $20million from Nigeria through US bank accounts

However, the Department of Justice alleges, over $3million of the funds used to purchase the aircraft, ‘allegedly came from bank accounts for the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited and Every Child Limited.’

Air Peace’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, has also been charged along with Onyema. 

Both men were charged 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.

In addition, Onyema was charged with 27 separate counts of money laundering while Eghagha was charged with committing aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.

Investigators allege that, beginning in approximately May 2016, the two men used a series of export letters of credit to cause banks to transfer more than $20million into Atlanta-based bank accounts controlled by Onyema. The letters of credit were purportedly to fund the purchase of five Boeing 737 passenger planes by Air Peace.

The letters were supported by documents such as purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals proving that Air Peace was purchasing the aircraft from Springfield Aviation Company LLC, a business registered in Georgia. But, according to investigators, the supporting documents were fake.

Springfield Aviation Company LLC, which is owned by Onyema and managed by a person with no connection to the aviation business, never owned the aircraft in the first place and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did not exist.

In October 2022 American citizen Ebony Mayfield, a former staff member of Springfield Aviation Company was sentenced to three years’ probation and fined $4,000 for her role in the alleged scheme after charges were filed against her by the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

The charges against Onyema and Eghagha remain pending with both men maintaining their innocence.

Neither man responded to calls and emails to Air Peace’s offices in Nigeria and the UK. 

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