Jammeh close associate’s assets frozen

Friday, June 01, 2018

The Commission of Inquiry looking into the financial dealings, assets among others things of Ex-President Jammeh, his family members and close associates has frozen the assets of Ali Youssef Sharara, chairman and chief executive officer of Spectrum Holding Sal and Tell International Incorporation.

The order came in the wake of the evidence adduced before the commission that Ali Youssef Sharara and Ex-President Jammeh bedfellows in the purchase of Gamtel and Gamcel shares.

Ali Youssef Sharara is one of the shareholders of Spectrum International Investment Holding SAL, a company registered under the laws of Lebanon with its registered offices at Verdum, Rachid Karame Street Centre Verdum 732, 17th floor, Beirut, Lebanon.

That in 2007, Spectrum International Investment Holding Sal (Spectrum), purported to purchase 50% of the shares in Gambia Telecommunications Company Ltd. (Gamtel) and Gambia Cellular Company Ltd. (Gamcel) for thirty-five (35) million US dollars on the directives of Ex-President Jammeh. Ex-President Jammeh further directed that an account be opened at the Central Bank for the said money to be deposited.

The said sum of US$ 35 million was a gross undervalue because a valuation carried out by PKF Kenya in the same year stated the value of Gamtel to be between US $ 77.5 million and US $ 85.4 million with a midpoint of US$81.3 million and Gamcel to between US$69.4 million and US$ 75.7 million with a midpoint value of US$72.5 million, whilst the Central Bank statement of the account shows that Spectrum paid only US$ 32,437,008.00 for 50% shares of both companies.

Evidence further adduced before the commission disclosed that Spectrum managed Gamtel and Gamcel from August 2007 to the 5th November 2008 and through a company called Oratus Incorporated were exclusive managers of the International Telecommunications Gateway during this period the foregoing arrangements were terminated by the Ex-President after 13 months for the Gambia government to re-purchase the Gamtel/Gamcel shares.

Also evidence adduced also disclosed that in 2011, Mr. Ali Youseff Sharara as TELL International Inc was reappointed as the exclusive manager of the Internatuional Gateway under the directives of the ex-president to purportedly recoup their investment in the reversed purchase of Gamtel and Gamcel shares. Tell International Inc managed the International Gateway between the periods of April 8th, 2011 to May 2014.

Evidence also showed that Mohammed Ibrahim Bazzi, the commission witness number 63 informed the commission that the sum of US$500,000.00 paid by Euro African Group to the Dollar account of Ex-President Jammeh Foundation for peace and the equivalent in dalasis was paid to the ex-president’s personal account both at Trust Bank (Gambia) Ltd. from 2012 -2013 were made on behalf of Ali Youssef Sharara to meet demands made by Ex-President Jammeh.

Evidence adduced disclosed that Njogu Bah (witness number 20) also informed the commission that Ali Youssef Sharara also gave Ex-President Jammeh a brand new Range Rover Vehicle as a gift, presumably as a bribe.

Further evidence adduced before the commission disclosed that Lamin Camara, the former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communication, Infrastructure informed the Commission that TELL International Inc. in addition to its fees amongst others things deducted US$2 million dollars from the monthly proceeds of the International Gateway every month ostensibly to recoup its investment on the purchase of the Gamtel/Gamcel  shares, a deduction the commission remarked is unquestionable.

As a result of the foregoing evidence adduced before the Commission, it therefore ordered that Ali Youssef Sharara be restrained by himself or his officer servant agents or any of them or otherwise howsoever from selling, assigning, mortgaging, charging or otherwise disposing of any of the moveable or immoveable assets whether directly or indirectly owned including land, shares, stocks, debentures or other interest in any of their companies or businesses in The Gambia or outside The Gambia pending further order of the said Commission or the outcome of the inquiry; removing from the Gambia any of his ( Sharara’s) aforementioned assets or doing anything that may reduce the value of the said assets pending further orders of the commission.

The commission urged members of the public to provide any information they may have regarding the assets owned by Ali Youssef Sharara in and outside The Gambia.

Author: Bruce Asemota and Micheal O. Davies
Source: Picture: Ex- President Jammeh