Counsel Bensouda: Jammeh forced GNPC, GPA & SSHFC to buy shares in Gam Petroleum

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Counsel Amie Bensouda yesterday told the Janneh Commission that the former president, Yahya Jammeh, forced GNPC, GPA, and SSHFC to buy shares in Gam Petroleum. 

Continuing her address, Mrs. Bensouda referred the commission to the 50% markup on Global Trading Group (GTG); adding that GTG was required to pay Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to NAWEC.

She submitted that GTG failed to build the storage tank as agreed and the premium was reduced to 3%. She said Muhammed Bazzi, the proprietor of GTG, who had the responsibility in managing NAWEC, was aware of the 3% markup and that GTG had not produced any evidence to show that they had a contract with NAWEC.

According to her, Mr. Abdoulie Jobe, former managing director of NAWEC, informed the commission about the IPP and that there was a licence and an agreement with PURA. She said during the process, NAWEC wrote to the office of the former president, noting that one could infer that the management of NAWEC was subdued under duress.

She said the generators were second-hand machines and the price at which they were bought were too high, which she said was confirmed by Mr. Fadi Mazegi; adding that GTG charged NAWEC $720,000 per month while the energy charge was 41.1 cent per hour.

Lead Counsel Bensouda argued that Mr. Abdoulie Jobe sent a letter to the office of the former president indicating the capacity charge, and that GTG had to provide the demonstrated capacity which was not done.

She further submitted that $12,000,000 was spent on HFO while the total investment was to the tune of $17.5m. She adduced that there was a directive from the Ministry of Energy that NAWEC should stop the investment with GTG, and that no further capacity charge should be made according to the directive.

Mrs. Bensouda argued that GTG submitted a proposal to hand over the facility to NAWEC and NAWEC could have had a better contract with SSHFC than that of the GTG. She alleged that there was no evidence that GTG was compelled to hand over the Power Plant to NAWEC as earlier alluded to by Bazzi’s attorney, Victoria Andrews.

She went on to say that an outstanding capacity charge was $8,000,000 with a total of over $9,000,000, noting that GTG was able to secure the agreement and that a document dated 6th March, 2010,  indicated that GTG paid $1,000,000 into the account of the former president as well as $500,000.

According to her, the markup was not justified for NAWEC to pay as charged by GTG because the generators were old. She wondered how could the office of the former president order NAWEC to sign a contract with GTG, and that NAWEC was paying 61% from its revenue to GTG.

On the letter written by Mr. Muhammed Bazzi to the former president regarding the tariff, it was stated that he and his company were responsible for the operations of NAWEC. She went on to say that Mr. Bazzi said the former president wrote to him in response to his letter that he was humiliated, and that the exclusivity was guaranteed by GTG.

She submitted that GTG paid $500,000 into the account of Kanilai Group International (KGI), and it was the language of Mr. Bazzi that GNPC was an exporter and a retailer. However, she said there was no evidence to show that Mr. Bazzi and his team were arrested and detained at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

She further stated that they could not understand why the government should hand over NAWEC to GTG, noting that Messer. Mamburay Njie, and Momodou B. Jallow testified that they were invited to a meeting to discuss the contract between NAWEC and GTG. 

Mrs. Bensouda submitted that it was amazing that Mr. Bazzi did not know what a conflict of interest was, noting that the agreement did not say that GTG was just an adviser. She argued that Mr. Alagie Conteh accused Mr. Bazzi of inflating the tender on the contract to provide electricity, and that there was evidence that the price was inflated as Mr. Conteh testified.

On the extension of the exclusivity licence for the importation of fuel by Euro Africa Group, she revealed that it was extended on the 10th of August, 2010. She added that Mr. Mazegi said payment had been made by SSHFC and the sum of $3,300,000 was transferred from SSHFC account.

Commission Counsel Bensouda further stated that Mr. Bazzi said that there was a directive from the office of the former president for SSHFC to purchase generators on behalf of NAWEC, and the said generators were not delivered until March, 2018. She said GTG did not pay any guaranty and the generators were not installed, because GTG needed €1.8m, and that the contract should have been completed within eight months.

She alleged that the project expiry date was extended several times, further submitting that there was no single matter as submitted by counsel Andrews that GTG had genuine contracts with NAWEC.

On Gam Petroleum, she submitted that Mr. Amadou Samba told the commission that he was not involved in the daily transaction of the company, and that Mr. Bazzi said there was a major investment to build Gam petroleum depot.

According to her, there was nothing in the file to show that MA Kharafi was interested in the construction of the storage facility, noting that the contract was done at the request of  the former president, and there was no agreement signed and it was not clear who the share holders were and how much they held.

She said the executive has no power to interfere or direct any public enterprise to invest in such enterprises; adding that there was no evidence to show that there was reluctance to sell shares in the company.

Mrs. Bensouda submitted further that Gam petroleum was controlling the depot and the management of the company, stating further that dividend could not be paid and expenditure was deflated. She said the audit report by DT Associates revealed that Gam petroleum did not produce documents on their expenditures.

According to her, the sum of $24,000,000 worth of fuel belonging to TOSTA was supplied to Gam petroleum by GNPC and this was based on the fact that there was an emergency.

On the Mandinary land where the depot is situated, she said government did not own the said land and could not compulsorily take a land and give it to Gam Petroleum, further stating that all what they promised to the villagers at Mandinary were not honoured. However, she said the land was valued at D6.8m but the proprietors were only given D1,000,000 as compensation.        

She also addressed the commission on the ownership of the “Daily Observer” Newspaper. 

Sittings continue on Thursday 29th November, 2018.

Author: Dawda Faye