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Air Peace CEO indicted in bank fraud, money laundering



Allegation is false – Onyema

The United States Department of Justice had charged the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace , Mr . Allen Onyema , with bank fraud and money laundering for moving more than $20m from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes .

The American government in a statement said the airline’ s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha , has also been charged with bank fraud and “aggravated identity theft ” in connection with the scheme.

US Attorney Byung Pak , was quoted to have said “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 , ” he added .

According to Pak , the indictment , and other information presented in court , beginning in 2010 , Onyema began travelling frequently to Atlanta , where he opened several personal and business bank accounts. Between 2010 and 2018 , over $44 . 9m was allegedly transferred into his Atlanta -based accounts from foreign sources.

the statement reads in part, “Beginning in approximately May 2016 , Onyema, together with Eghagha , allegedly used a series of export letters of credit to cause banks to transfer more than $ 20 m into Atlanta – based bank accounts controlled by Onyema .

“The letters of credit were purportedly to fund the purchase of five separate 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.”

It stated that , however , the supporting documents were fake as 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 , and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did not exist .

“ Eghagha allegedly participated in this scheme as well, directing the Springfield Aviation manager to sign and send false documents to banks and even using the manager ’ s identity to further the fraud.
“ After Onyema received the money in the United States , he allegedly laundered over $ 16 m of the proceeds of the fraud by transferring it to other accounts, ” it added .

The Chairman and CEO of Air Peace has however denied the allegation, describing it as false, saying it has “no way in line with my character as a person and as a business man whose only aim has been to build Nigeria and improve wellbeing.”

He said he “has never laundered any money whatsoever as every aircraft bought was transacted through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“As the press statement clearly stated, these are indictment that only contains charges. I am innocent of all charges and the US government will find NO dirt on me because I have never conducted business with any illegalities.

“Be rest assured that I also have my lawyers on this and these mere allegations will be refuted.

“I never laundered money in my life, neither have I committed bank fraud anywhere in the world. Every Kobo I transferred to the US for aircraft purchase went through the Central Bank of Nigeria LC regime and all were used for the same purpose. The American companies that received the funds are still in business. I never took a penny from any US bank or Nigerian bank. I am willing to defend my innocence in the US courts,” he added



CBN Sells Fresh Dollars To BDCs At N1,021/$



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) started fresh and direct sales of US dollars at N1,021 per dollar to Bureau De Change operators.

Nigeria’s apex bank disclosed this in a circular signed by its Director of Trade and Exchange Department Hassan Mahmud.

“We write to inform you of the sale of $10,000 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to BDCs at the rate of N1,021/$1. The BDCs are in turn to sell to eligible end users at a spread of NOT MORE THAN 1.5 percent above the purchase price,” the circular posted on its website read.

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“ALL eligible BDCs are therefore directed to commence payment of the Naira deposit to the underlisted CBN Naira Deposit Account Numbers from today, Monday, April 22, 2024, and submit confirmation of payment, with other necessary documentations, for disbursement of FX at the respective CBN Branches.”

CBN’s move is coming as the naira is recording a slight depreciation against the dollar after weeks of gains.

In late March, the bank also sold $10,000 to each of the eligible Bureau De Change (BDC) operators in the country at the rate of N1,251/$1.

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Like in the most recent sales, it warned BDCs against breaching terms of the dollar sales, vowing to sanction defaulters “including outright suspension from further participation in the sale”.

The fortunes of the naira have fallen sharply since President Bola Tinubu took over in May. Inflation figures have reached new highs and the cost of living hitting the rooftops.

Nigeria’s currency slid to about N1,900/$ some months ago at the parallel market. But in recent weeks, it has gained against the dollar.

The Nigerian authorities have also doubled down on their crackdown against cryptocurrency platform Binance and illegal BDCs.

On March 1, the CBN revoked the licences of 4,173 BDCs over compliance failures.

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JUST IN: FirstBank Gets New MD/CEO



Olusegun Alebiosu has been appointed as the Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank Group), effective April 2024.

Alebiosu steps into this pivotal role from his previous position as the Executive Director, Chief Risk Officer, and Executive Compliance Officer, a position he held since January 2022.

Alebiosu brings to the helm of FirstBank over 28 years of extensive experience in the banking and financial services industry. His expertise spans various domains including credit risk management, financial planning and control, corporate and commercial banking, agriculture financing, oil and gas, transportation, and project financing.

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Having embarked on his professional journey in 1991 with Oceanic Bank Plc. (now EcoBank Plc.), Alebiosu has held several notable positions in esteemed financial institutions.

Prior to joining FirstBank in 2016, he served as Chief Risk Officer at Coronation Merchant Bank Limited, Chief Credit Risk Officer at the African Development Bank Group, and Group Head of Credit Policy & Deputy Chief Credit Risk Officer at United Bank for Africa Plc.

Alebiosu’s academic credentials further enrich his professional profile. He is an alumnus of the Harvard School of Government and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. Additionally, he obtained a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, as well as a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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A distinguished member of various professional bodies, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA), Nigeria Institute of Management (ANIM), and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Alebiosu is renowned for his commitment to excellence and ethical practices in the banking sector.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Alebiosu is known for his passion for golf and adventure. He is happily married and a proud parent.

With Alebiosu’s appointment, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited anticipates continued growth and innovation under his leadership, reinforcing its position as a leading financial institution in Nigeria and beyond.


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CBN Gives New Directive On Lending In Real Estate



The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has released a new regulatory directive to enhance lending to the real sector of the Nigerian economy.

The directive, issued on April 17, 2024, with reference number BSD/DIR/PUB/LAB/017/005 and signed by the Acting Director of Banking Supervision, Adetona Adedeji, signifies a notable shift in the bank’s policy towards a more contractionary approach.

In line with the new measures, the CBN has reduced the loan-to-deposit ratio by 15 percentage points, down to 50 per cent.

This move aligns with the CBN’s current monetary tightening policies and reflects the increase in the Cash Reserve ratio rate for banks.

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The LDR is a metric used to evaluate a bank’s liquidity by comparing its total loans to its total deposits over the same period, expressed as a percentage.

An excessively high ratio may indicate insufficient liquidity to meet unexpected fund requirements.

All Deposit Money Banks are now mandated to adhere to this revised LDR.

The CBN has stated that average daily figures will be utilised to gauge compliance with this directive.

Furthermore, while DMBs are encouraged to maintain robust risk management practices in their lending activities, the CBN has committed to continuous monitoring of adherence and will adjust the LDR as necessary based on market developments.

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Adedeji has called on all banks to acknowledge these modifications and adjust their operations accordingly. He emphasised that this regulatory adjustment is anticipated to significantly influence the banking sector and the wider Nigerian economy.

The circular read in part, “Following a shift in the Bank’s policy stance towards a more contractionary approach, it is crucial to revise the loan-to-deposit ratio policy to conform with the CBN’s ongoing monetary tightening.

“Consequently, the CBN has decided to decrease the LDR by 15 percentage points to 50 per cent, proportionate to the rise in the CRR rate for banks.

“All DMBs must maintain this level, and it is advised that average daily figures will still be applied for compliance assessment.

“While DMBs are urged to sustain strong risk management practices concerning their lending operations, the CBN will persist in monitoring compliance, reviewing market developments, and making necessary adjustments to the LDR. Please be guided accordingly.”

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