I don’t know why Mariam Yahya Jammeh Account was openedSays former Trust Bank MD

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The former Managing Director (MD),Trust Bank Gambia Ltd, Pa Makumba Njie, yesterday told the Janneh Commission that he did not know why Mariam Yahya Jammeh Account was opened. 

Mr. Njie said he served as MD of the bank for 15 years, from 2001 to 2016 but prior to that, he was also executive director from 1997 to 2007.

He was summoned in relation to MYJ Family Trust Account. He added that he dealt with Mr. Hodrog when he was the MD of Euro Africa Group, and that the said Mr. Hodrog was working for Kanilai International Group (KGI). He disclosed that the bank accepted the opening of the account at the time.

According to him, he approved the opening of the account, further stating that there was a sum of $800,000 and he assumed that the money was deposited by Mr. Hodrog.

He revealed that there was no explanation as to why monies amounting to $200,000 were being transferred to Ahmed Hodrog, further stating that he did not know why payments of $300,000 was authorised by Mr. Hodrog.

Mr. Njie further testified that he assumed that all deposits into this account were made by Hodrog and that he was onetime the manager of the accounts of the former president. However, he could not explain the reason why EURO AFRICA GROUP deposited into the salary account of the former president but said when he confronted Mr. Bazzi, he told him that it was an arrangement they had with the former president.

The former banker also explained that there were no explanations as to why substantial amounts were being transferred to the United States. He added that the former president would send him an authority and would send someone to pick up the cash on his behalf.

When it was put to him by counsel that there was a payment of D42,000,000 to one Alagie Ceesay and there was no authority, he responded in the positive and added that in most of the time, the former president would send an authority for the withdrawal of monies and would only call on few occasions.

Mr. Njie disclosed that the salary account of the former president was his personal account and that was why some monies were paid into the account but could not tell the reasons. When further asked by counsel whether it was in line with banking standards to pay huge sums into the former president’s account without knowing the source of the funds, he said it was permitted based on the authority of the former president.

He acknowledged that he had never seen a memorandum of Article of Association of JFP showing that it was a legally registered organisation. When asked by counsel whether  they could not ask JFP to regularise their organisation, he responded that he believed the bank was taking risk in dealing with an unregistered organisation, because they could not hold them liable should in case they took a loan from the bank. 

Earlier, Mr. Nuha Touray, former secretary to Cabinet, also reappeared before the commission in connection to a PAC/PEC account operated at the office of the former president.

According to him, when a PAC/PEC report was submitted to the office of the former president, he recommended for a taskforce to be set up and the chairman was the former attorney general and minister of Justice, Lamin A.M.S. Jobarteh, while he (Turay) served as secretary.

Mr. Touray testified that he served as secretary to the taskforce for a brief period due to another function and was replaced by one Mariama Njie. He said the opening of the account at Trust Bank was directives from the former president; adding that it was correct that he wrote a letter requesting for the opening of the account. However, he said the bank could not have opened the account without the authority from the Ministry of Finance.  

He testified that the reason of opening the account was to enable them deposit monies recovered from public enterprises; adding that his actions towards the opening of the account were based on directives from the former president and he acted on behalf of the then Secretary General Njogu Bah.

On the signatories of the account, he informed the commission that he and Kalilou Bayo were the signatories to the account. He added that AMRC requested to be paid the sum of D3.8 million which he said was the reason of creating signatories to the account, as the funds recovered were blocked into a fixed deposit account.

With regard to a contract he signed for the building of a guard house at State House, he said he could not  remember the amount involved for the said contract unless if he perused the contract  documents.

He further testified that people who owed AMRC money were summoned by the taskforce to pay.

Next to testify was Mr. Ndambu Touray, a retired banker with Trust Bank, who revealed that he was the head of Foreign Operations for Meridian Bank but had never met the former president but dealt with an account which belonged to the former president.

He said he also dealt with Mr. Hodrog by way of transfers to overseas, further stating that Mr. Hodrog was working for Euro Africa Group which was their customer. Responding to counsel, he said it was common to deposit huge foreign currencies for transfers without questioning.

According to him, Mr. Hodrog never told him why he was transferring huge sums from the bank and would not ask him, as he knew where it would end. It was put to him that on the 13 August, 2010, there was a transfer of $1,000,000 by Mr. Hodrog but he never told him that the money was meant for the purchase of properties in the U.S.

The retired banker revealed that the sum of $4,000 was deposited by Euro Africa Group into MYJ account to be transferred overseas.

Mr. Karkish Sharma, Managing Director of Safari Motors who was summoned in connection to John Deere Tractors, testified that they are authorised dealers of TATA Motors and it is a registered company with five shareholders.

He said in 2012 there was a delegation from John Deere and they had a two- year agency with them and their role was to assemble tractors to be handed over to John Deere which were finally handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture. He said MOU was signed between Safari Motors and John Deere. Documents produced by the witness relating to their company including bank statements were admitted as exhibits.

Mr. Mousa Mousa, Managing Director of TK Motors, reappeared with the Sales and Marketing manager, Degain Nyang, to testify in connection to vehicles supplied to the office of the former president.

Prior to dwelling on the documents they submitted to the commission, he was reminded by commission chairman about the passport he used to enter The Gambia but he said he could not find it and only possessed the recent one.

Commission’s counsel, Amie Bensouda, intimated to him that the documents he provided to the commission were too dark and therefore asked him to furnish the commission with the originals. Further responding to counsel, he revealed that T.K. Motors documents prior to 2009 were all destroyed.

At that juncture, business registration certificates, annual returns as well as certificates registered with Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) were all admitted and marked accordingly.

According to Mr. Mousa, his company had no connection with Air Waves Service; adding that a number of vehicles and amount received were contained in the files they submitted to the commission but added that there were no summary of transactions regarding vehicles supplied to the former government.

The commission had therefore given the company some time to produce the summary ranging from 2009-2016. He said there was no agreement between T.K. Motors and the then government and would only supply vehicles based on request.

The Sales and Marketing manager testified that she dealt with the files before the commission and among her responsibilities was to sell cars, update statements and also to follow up payments for the company. She was therefore expected to furnish the commission with a summary of yearly payments received from the then government in respect to the supply of cars.

Sitting continues today. 

Author: Dawda Faye