Edward Graham reappears at Janneh Commission

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Edward Graham, the former managing director of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC), yesterday went through a vigorous questioning before the Commission of Inquiry that looks into the assets and financial transactions of former President Yahya Jammeh.

Graham, who was reminded that he earlier talked to the commission about their Act, clarified that he was referring to 2015 Act, but was told that the Act he told the Counsel that they applied was the 2010 Act.

He confirmed that the 2015 Act was applied, adding that at the time he was at the corporation, the 2010 Act was not enacted.

It was at this moment put to him that their Act was an extension of the government and then asked to confirm whether the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance was a member of their board.

In response, he referred to the Act and replied in the affirmative, saying the former president had appointed all the members of the board of the corporation.

At this juncture, a document was shown indicating the purchase of tents for the Office of the former President.

He testified that on 27 November 2014, they had received directives from the Office of the former President to open a letter of credit, adding that they went ahead and opened the letter of credit at Trust Bank.

Mr Graham posited that he was subsequently notified and informed that their account had been debited.

When asked to produce the directive he received from the Office of the former President to initiate the transaction of the purchase of the tents, Mr Graham told the commission that 27th September, 2014, was the date written on the directive from the Office of the former President, indicating that he should open a letter of credit, but could not find the directive in his file at the time.

He adduced that he did not know whether their board approved the letter of credit to purchase the tents, further stating that as per their Act, they did not need the approval of their board to open a letter of credit for the purchase of the tents. But Graham said he was referring to their 2015 Act.

It was put to him that there were loans which were approved before 2015, and he confirmed that it was the 2010 Act.

Mr Graham testified that the Ministry of Finance could give general directives to their board for investment policy, adding that he could not remember whether the Minister of Finance had given directives for investment policy.

When put to him that loans to NAWEC and other loans were given out when he was the Managing Director of the corporation in 2012, he replied in the positive.

It was also put to him that the loans were outstanding, and that NAWEC had substantial loans.

But Graham said he discussed it with the then Secretary-General for the loan given to NAWEC to be settled.

He posited further that he was told that these were directives from the Office of the former President, but he told them to put it in writing.

Commenting on the loans given to NAWEC, he said some of them were paid, further noting that in 2016, NAWEC had made some payments, which were also documented.

He revealed that there was an agreement between the corporation and NAWEC for the loans to be paid.

He said he could not remember whether their board had approved the agreement.

At this juncture, the said agreement was tendered and admitted, as evidences.

Mr Graham stated that during Njogu Bah’s time, on 29 September 2012, he was called and told that the level of the Airport was not attractive, adding that they wanted the corporation to finance the leveling of the Airport, and that he told them to put it in writing.

It was put to him that a document, dated 9 January 2014, which was a copy of a ‘work-about resolution’ was in his possession for NAWEC’s $5.6millin and $3.6million loans, and also a loan of D15, 000,000 for Tobaski rams.

When asked whether he took it to their board, he replied in the negative, adding that they had written to the Office of the former President to pay the loans.

Mr Graham adduced that because of the difficulties in recovering the loans, they decided to directly engage NAWEC to settle them.

“When it comes to directives, professionalism is out,” he told the commission.

He confirmed that the Act they applied to give out loans to the Office of the former President could be influenced by the Managing Director.

Muhammed Bazzi was the next witness to reappear. He was told that his counsel, Loubna Farage, had made an application to testify in camera, but it was withdrawn. He confirmed the withdrawal of the application.

He was referred to a payment made by Euro Africa Group to the former president’s salary account, to which he confirmed but noted that it was in his earlier testimony.

He stated that he brought Mr Sarara and other investors to The Gambia, adding that Mr Sarara was the proprietor of Spectrum International, and that he introduced him to Gamcel because Gamcel was not doing well.

He said that Mr Sarara contributed a lot to the upgrading of Gamcel, and also to the management of the International Gateway.

Mr Bazzi posited that the former president had threatened to deal with Mr Sarara, if he requests the loan owed to him in dollars, adding that he assisted Mr Sarara with $1,000,000 to pay to the former president.

He testified further that the former president again asked Mr Sarara to pay another $5,000,000 to his salary account, adding that the former president had threatened him that, if he (Bazzi) did not produce the password for the switchboard of the International Gateway, he would jail him.


Author: Dawda Faye
Source: Picture: Edward Graham