‘Muhammed Jammeh has 21% Share at Sindola Safari Lodge’

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mrs. Lily Diab, the former managing director of Unique Transport Services Company, yesterday told the Janneh Commission that Muhammed Jammeh, the son of the former president, has 21% share at Sindola Safari Lodge.

She was testifying in connection to the Mahindra tractors and Sindola Safari Lodge.

The business tycoon explained that Sindola Safari Lodge was registered in 2010, noting that she recommended to the former president to put Sindola in compliance and the former president asked her to hire the service of a lawyer which she did. She said Kanilai Woni Farms owned 79% share while Muhammed Jammeh owned 21% share. 

Mr. Karamba Jawara, principal banking officer, Central Bank of The Gambia, deputising the governor of the bank, yesterday reappeared before the Janneh Commission in connection to several accounts that were operated by the office of the former president.

According to him, the first account was a Dollar account operated by the Ministry of Finance, namely Second Divestiture account which was opened on the 8 August, 2008 and was controlled by the Ministry of Finance, and the opening balance was $2,737,117.50.

He further stated that the purpose of the account was not stated but the funds were from the proceeds of GAMTEL/GAMCEL shares and the total deposit into the account was $32,437,008 while the total withdrawal was $32, 364, 933.83 and the last transaction was on the 27 March, 2009, with a debit of $25,000. He said as at now, there is a balance of $72,024.17 and the signatories were Musa Balla Gaye, former Finance Minister, Sering Cham and Mod A.K. Secka, former permanent secretaries, Ministry of Finance.

Jawara further explained that payments were made to the Gambian Embassy in USA for the purchase of buses, further stating that the sum of $1,440,357.35 was payment for the balance of 50% for school buses and the purchase of computers respectively.

He testified that $5,845,072.85 went to the embassy for the purchase of the ambassador’s residence by the Gambian government, adding that $875,000 was a payment made to the Gambian Embassy. He stated that a sum of $455,590 was also sent to the embassy through bank transfer but no purpose was stated for the transfer.

The banker disclosed that $19, 316,000 was transferred to CRA. On the Citizenship Investor account, he testified that they could not trace the account opening information but it has to do with the office of the former president; adding that there was 99% credit while there were four withdrawals totalling over D2,000,000. There were debits authorized by the secretary general as well as over D2, 000,000 overdrafts and the source of funds were from the sale of citizenship.

Mr. Jawara revealed that the last transaction on this account was on the 21st December 2016 in the sum of D604, 980, leaving a balance of D39, 838,107.59.

Buttressing on Construction of Kanilai Recording Studio and Conference Centre account, he disclosed that it was opened on the 18 April, 2008, upon request from the accountant general and authority from the office of the former president, and the signatories to the account were the former president and Teneng Ba Jaiteh, former Energy Minister. He added that the total deposit was D30, 109,475 while the total withdrawal was D30, 015,775 leaving a balance of D93, 700.

He said there was an initial deposit of $1,000,000 which was equivalent to D19, 000,000, and while responding to commission’s counsel, he confirmed that this account did not have any link to the former government. However, he said there would be no opening of accounts without clearly stating the purpose, as some accounts are subjected to international scrutiny.

On the Divestiture Fund account, the witness testified that it was opened on the 29 December, 2005, with the deposit of D117, 382,177.77 while the same amount was withdrawn and there was nothing left on the account. He said major payments into this account were from Senegambia Beach Hotel and withdrawals were made under the instruction of the Ministry of Finance, signed by Permanent Secretary Abdoulie Jallow and D24, 000,000 was transferred to the Treasury Department.

Another account he dealt with was the Special Account opened on the 11 July, 2012, by the office of the former president, and there was a deposit of D2, 330, 553.05 and there was no withdrawal from the account, and the office of the former president was in control of the account. He added that there were payments into this account by Pan African Gambia Ltd. amounting to D1, 000,000 and another D1, 000,000 was deposited by Guaranty Trust Bank.

Testifying on the recovery monies owed to public enterprises, he stated that it was opened on the 6 August, 2012, upon request by the accountant general and it was a Dalasi account, and the office of the former president was the controlling authority, further stating that there was no transaction on the account.

At this juncture, statements and summary of the accounts, transaction documents signed by the witness together with other relevant documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

The former managing director of Unique Transport Services Company (UTSCO), Lily Diab, shed more light on the acquisition of Mahindra tractors by Kanilai Group International.

She testified that they received the said tractors as part of the inventory and they were instructed by the former president to handover the tractors to KGI and on the 19th of January, 2009, she received the tractors and delivered them on the 21st January, 2009, to the chief of protocol at State House.

Mrs. Diab, who was also onetime the overseer of Sindola Safari Lodge, explained that as per the summary inventory letter, they received five hundred tractors and it was agreed that UTSCO would oversee the assembling of the tractors and would get delivery notes from KGI. She added that there were correspondences between their company, Pa Ousman Bojang and one Sarja Camara.

“I would not have a complete report of the inventory, as I was not allowed to remove the files but I do have a handing over of tractors for a period of one year,” said the business mogul.

According to her, from 2008 to 2012, and to the best of her knowledge, she had handed over the tractors to one Commander Sanneh, except one which was used for the clearing of the site. “On the 26 July, 2012, I was ordered to stop operations and the handing over process took two weeks,” she told the commission.

She said KGI would issue them with standard format for the handing over, further stating that she was not sure whether KGI was selling the tractors, as she never interacted with KGI in any operation but rather limited herself to UTSCO; adding that they were dealing with KGI purely by correspondence.

She disclosed that she was ordered to stop operation at UTSCO but did not receive any instruction on Sindola Safari Lodge and Sindola was registered as a private company.

Next to testify, was the proprietor of TAF Holding Ltd., Mustapha Njie alias Taf in connection to AU Villas he constructed at Brufut Gardens during the African Union Summit in The Gambia.

Mr. Mousa Mousa, managing director of T.K. Motors, testified that he had some of the documents he was asked to produce. He added that when his brother died, they wrote to lawyer Haddy Dandeh Njie for the transfer of shares which is in progress. He said the company has board of directors including himself and Aisha Balla Gaye; adding that he is enjoying a 25% share, and they do audit the company.

Further responding to counsel, he said the company is registered with GPPA and they kept records from 2009 to 2016, further stating that T.K. Motors only deals in cars and does some repairs, and they did not tender for the supply of vehicles to the office of the former president but directives came from the office of the former president for the supply.

Mrs. Bensouda then asked Mr. Mousa to avail the commission with financial statements showing government monies received by T.K Motors in connection to vehicles and other equipment supplied by the company, ranging from July 1994. However, Mr. Mousa intimated that he would find it difficult to produce documents from that period, except from 1999.

However, he denied allegations made by Mr. Abdoulie Cham, former financial controller, CBG, for a loan facility amounting to $140,000,000; adding that he had never met Mr. Cham, and even if Cham was to sit down in the hall, he would not be able to spot him out.

Documents relating to the company, such as memorandum and article of association, annual returns and correspondences were admitted as exhibits.

Responding to questions from Chairman Sourahata Janneh, he said he could not remember where he was as at November, 2001, and it was correct that he is a British national, which prompted the chairman to order him to produce his passport to the commission, to which he responded in the positive and added that he would check for it. 

Sittings continue today.

Author: Dawda Faye
Source: Picture: Mrs. Lily Diab former MD UTSC