The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Allen Onyema has been acquitted of business fraud, after three years of investigation involving five agencies of the American government.
Last week, the government of Antigua and Barbuda government announced that it had agreed to the terms of a joint initiative with Africa’s largest private carrier, Air Peace, to boost investments in LIAT 2020 Ltd.
There have been claims in the public that the government had entered into an arrangement with someone with questionable character who was accused of fraud
But the District Court of Atlanta Georgia handed down the decision not too long ago saying that there was no loss against any bank in the indictment suit filed by the Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
The judge however ordered a probation and $4000 fine against a former staff of Springfield Aviation Company Inc., Ebony Mayfield on Friday.
A statement by the law firm of Augustine Alegeh & Co., counsel to the Airline, explained that Mayfield was an “administrative staff of Springfield with limited knowledge in Letter of Credit Transactions, who pleaded guilty to one count in the indictment, presumably as she realized the futility of attempting to explain several Letters of Credit utilized for purchase of aircraft for Air Peace Limited in a jury trial”
Probation, the firm explained, “is the lowest possible sentence available under American Federal Law. The firm noted that there have been false and unsubstantiated press stories in Nigeria, about the indictment”
“Our clients never took loans or credit from any American Bank and Mayfield was never paid the sum of $20,000 at any time to commit any fraud, as it is being peddled by a section of the Nigerian Press. There was no loss of money or any damage whatsoever to any third party. The American government admitted in Court that no bank suffered any financial loss in the matter. Mayfield, like other Springfield Aviation Company Inc. staff was only paid her bi-weekly salary and/or allowances,” it clarified.
According to the firm, the decision confirmed the position of its clients that there was no fraudulent intent in all the Letters of Credit because there was no victim in any way, manner, or form.
All the funds involved, it explained, were legitimate funds belonging to its clients.
Meanwhile, the government said in the agreement signed with Air Peace, both parties are to invest in the Antigua-based airline through cash and other assets, with Air Peace acquiring a majority stake.
The government said that the aim is the emergence of an airline able to respond to the demand for inter-island connectivity in the Eastern Caribbean.
The statement said LIAT 2020 will provide safe and reliable air transport services to passengers and cargo across the region and the wider Caribbean.