Ex-President Jammeh Commission kick-starts

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Commission of Inquiry into the Assets and Financial transactions of the former President, Yahya Jammeh, commenced on 10 August, 2017 at the Njembeh Hotel.

It was chaired by lawyer Suruhata Janneh while lawyer Amie Bensouda was the lead counsel. Surahata Janneh welcomed the media and told the journalists to be accurate in their reports.

He said they are going to have the first sittings into the assets and financial transactions of the former president and associates, adding that they should be addressed as “your honour.”

Journalists should ensure that justice is seen to be done, further stating that there was no space for dealing with the sittings.

Amie Bensouda said she was appointed by the Attorney General and the Chairman was appointed by the president, adding that funds have been withdrawn under the instructions of the former President, and that they wanted to know whether due process was followed in the withdrawal of funds.

Testifying before the Commission, the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank Gambia Limited (GTBANK), Bolaji Ayodele, informed the commission that Alhamdulilah Petroleum and Mineral Company (APAM) were holding both a dollar and dalasi accounts with the bank.

According to him, the dalasi account was opened in August 2015, adding that he had the mining licence agreement between the then Government and the said company.

When asked by lead counsel Amie Bensouda whether he was willing for the documents to be put before the Commission, he responded in the affirmative.

At this juncture the licence agreement and statements of accounts together with other relevant documents were admitted and marked accordingly.

Mr Ayodele further explained that the Mining Company did not finish up with their documentation required in opening an account as there was no certificate of registration and certificate of incorporation respectively.

This, he said, warranted his bank to write several letters to the company, asking them to produce an MOU together with other necessary documents.

The letters dated 10 October 2016 and 8 February 2017 were also admitted into evidence, adding that despite the demand from the bank, the company never provided them with business registration certificate.

He said APAM’s account was opened by Antouman Jammeh and on 19 October, 2015, there was an additional signatory to the account by one Isatou Sallah and on 3 October 2015, one Toni Ghattas was also added as a signatory to the same accounts.

He said both accounts (Dollar & Dalasis) were closed on 8 February 2017 upon receiving a letter seeking its stoppage.

He added that Samwuna Aza of Jammeh Foundation for Peace was also one of the signatories to the account 20320436110.

The banker further disclosed that the information he gave on the dalasi account applied to the dollar account as well.

At that point, the statements of account from the dalasi account revealed that the sum of D61,369, 621.77 (Sixty-one million three hundred and sixty-nine thousand six hundred and twenty-one dalasis and seventy-seven bututs were deposited while the sum of D61,179, 270.22 (Sixty-one million one hundred and seventy-nine thousand two hundred and seventy dalasis twenty-two bututs.

With regard to the dollar account, he revealed that the sum of $660,377. 45 (Six hundred and Sixty thousand three hundred and seventy-seven dollar forty five cents) was deposited. No amount withdrawn in dollar was explained to the Commission.

Mr Ayodele said the source of the sixty-one million one hundred and seventy-nine thousand two hundred and seventy dalasis twenty-two bututs is from minor cooperations but was quick to add that he doesn’t directly manage the account. He added that on 24 February 2016 there was a deposit of seven million seven hundred and thirteen thousand seven hundred and fifty dalasis (D7,713,750).

Momodou Musa Njie, Managing Director of First International Bank (FIB), informed the Commission that it’s correct that he was subpoenaed by the state in respect to Alhamdulilah Petroleum and Mineral Company Limited (APAM).

He said the said company opened both a dollar and dalasi accounts in their bank on 16 November 2016.

Documents showing the transactions of the account i.e. inflow and outflow of monies, were all admitted and marked accordingly.

Prior to the admission of the said documents Mr Musa indicated that one Wureh Njie and Toni Ghattas were the signatories of the said account.

He said that at the time of opening the account, there was no certificate of incorporation, Memorandum of Article or Certificate of Business Registration. 

According to him, the sum of D13.7 million was deposited and D13.4 million was withdrawn from the account thereby living a current balance of D5,000.00.

He added that in respect to the dollar account, the sum of $27,000.4 (Twenty seven thousand and four cent) was deposited and the depositors intimated to the bank that they were involved in sand mining.

Therefore the source of the twenty-seven thousand dollars, four cent is from sand mining.

He said the sum of $25,800 dollars and $1200 were deposited on 28 November 2016 and both were withdrawn on the following day.

At that point, both correspondents from FIB to the Company were admitted into evidence and marked accordingly.

Yankuba Darboe, Commissioner General of Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), testified that he was appointed in the said position on 8 March 2015 and his institution was not involved into the Tax Recovery Accounts of both FIB and Guaranty Trust Bank respectively.

He said he heard the said banks received directives from the Office of the President to open tax recovery accounts but his office did not have any knowledge as to who opened the account.

Mr Babou Awe testified that he works at the Corporate Department of Trust Bank and that he was not operating the account. He pleaded with the commission to give them time to regularize their documents. He adduced that they have special people who deals with accounts, adding that the Managing Director told him that he never knew he was supposed to appear before the Commission.

The witness then stated that he was the one who received the summons from the Commission for the MD to appear.

At that juncture, the lead counsel told the witness that the MD has to appear on 14 August 2017.

The accounts of Events Planning and Management (EPM) and Foni Carpentry and Construction were dealt with and some tax recovery accounts from Trust Bank dated 17 September 2013 and 5 April 2017 were admitted by the Commission. 

Mr Awe said Mr Sheriff Sawaneh’s account was 1,947,346 on 7 October 2013.

According to him, D75,000.00 was debited from Sawaneh’s account; adding that 4,485,000.00 also reflected on Mr Sawaneh’s account. He alleged that 1,396,740.00 was in the statement of Mr Sawaneh. 

At this juncture, Omar Gibril Sallah’s statement of account was admitted, which was dated 5 December 2013.

He adduced that on 14 May 2014, there was a transaction by the Defence Planning Management of the former president’s office; adding that F.M.S. Enterprise had D500,000-transaction and there was no name on the account.

Mr Awe further adduced that on 19 May and 23 June 2015 there were payments of D974,070.00 and D417,175.00 to Foni Carpentry and Construction respectively. 

Author: Dawda Faye
Source: Picture: Ex-President Jammeh