Bungalow Beach Hotel proprietor faces Janneh Commission

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mr. Ardy Sarge , a hotelier and the proprietor of Bungalow Beach and Sarge’s Hotels, yesterday appeared before the Janneh Commission  in connection to the Jammeh Foundation  for Peace.

He said the foundation was a charitable foundation, noting that he never read the constitution of the foundation. He testified that in 2002 he became involved in the foundation but did not have any documents relating to the foundation.

He told the commission that he was co-opted by the former vice president, Isatou Njie-Saidy as member of the technical team, noting that he was appointed as chairman for the fund raising committee. Mr Sarge further testified that he was called in to serve as a board member.

He further adduced that he was a signatory to Guaranty Trust Bank, Trust Bank, Skye Bank and Zenith Bank accounts of the foundation.

According to him, the purpose of the foundation was to pay school fees for students, raise funds and to help the needy, stating that the foundation was incorporated and registered. He went on to say that the then fund raising chairman explained the constitution to him.

He stated that he did not know the legal implication attached to being a member of the foundation, indicating further that in 2005 he became a board member.

He recalled that the former president was not a signatory to the accounts of the foundation, adding that he counter signed cheques.

He informed the commission that the source of funds were from gala dinner and from philanthropists like Father Gough , revealing that there were audited accounts and for some years the accounts were not audited .

He said Baboucarr Cham was one of the auditors, and that they used to have meetings every other month at the former vice president’s office. He stated that he could not remember whether they had a budget, adding that they never received accounts from the management.

He testified further that he was not aware of Taiwanese funds coming into the accounts, noting that it was only Father Gough’s donations he could remember.

He posited that bank statements were requested by the CEO to reconcile with her accountant.

At this juncture, he was shown some accounts to go through, and confirmed that he was a signatory to the Trust Bank account, further revealing that his signature was replaced with Ansumana Jammeh’s signature.

Mr. Sarge posited that he was not aware that there was a payment of $2,000,000 into the account, adding that he did not know Euro Africa Group but heard about it. He further testified that he was not either aware that  Euro Africa Group paid US$ 1,000,000, US$100,000 as well as other payments the company had made. It was put to him that US$ 200,000 was withdrawn from the account by the former president, a letter of credit to the tune of over US$800,000 and that  US$,100,000 was also withdrawn by the former president. It was further put to him that US$166,000, US$250,000, US$448,000, D20, 000,000 and D15, 000,000 were transferred to the account of the former president from the foundation’s account.

In response, he said he was not aware of all these withdrawals. Again, it was put to him that being the director of the board, he was responsible for the transaction of the foundation but he said he was only approving payments but he never signed for the withdrawals.

He narrated that he could not remember signing a cheque in 2002 and that the former vice president insisted that there should be a management report. He noted that he was not active for the past years, and that he could remember Nancy Njie and Ansuman Jammeh as the CEOs of the foundation.

At this juncture, a letter dated 5th January, 2012, was shown to him, indicating the transfers of US$150,000 and US$4000 respectively. In response, he said this was the first time to see the letter.

Next to testify was Abdoulie Cham, former finance director at the Central Bank. He was summoned in connection to ” Daily Observer” in respect of money transferred to Kenneth Best from the CBG. He said he made a statement to that effect.

Counsel Bensouda reminded him that a sum of US$268,000 transfer was made for the acquisition of “Daily Observe”. In response, he told the commission that Amadou Samba brought the details of Mr Best, such as bank statement and invoices, but he did not see the late Baba Jobe.

At this juncture, his statement was tendered and admitted as exhibit.

He finally testified that he did not see any written instruction to transfer the said money to Mr Best.

Sulayman Suso, the managing director of GAMTEL, was the next witness to testify in connection to the contract between GAMTEL and the National Assembly for the installation of telecommunication system.

He said during the construction of the Assembly, there was a multi-sectoral meeting to look at the infrastructural project for the Assembly in terms of ITC and telecommunication.  He further stated that GAMTEL was invited and he attended the meeting but did not chair it, noting that the ministries of Communication and Works were represented at the meeting.

He told the commission that the ITC facility was not sufficient for the Assembly and there was no mention of any specific supply, further revealing that there was a second meeting and that he stopped attending meeting.

Mr. Suso adduced that generally different technologies were looked at, and minutes were generated by the GAMTEL team but it was not circulated, stating that CISCO is a vendor that manufactures equipment and that GAMTEL and CISCO vendor were training engineers.

He said that he did not agree that GAMTEL was not competent to manage the CISCO system.

Under cross-examination by Lawyer Malick Mba’I, who was representing Mobicel Group, it was put to Mr. Suso that there was no decision made to deploy the unified communication system. In response, he said GAMTEL deployed the system before the one at the Assembly, adding that he did not know the person managing the system.

The commission resumes today.

Author: Dawda Faye