Cham, Director of Finance at Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation
(SSHFC), yesterday testified before the Commission of Inquiry that looks into
the assets and financial transactions of former President Yahya Jammeh.
He testified that he has been working at the corporation for over 35 years, adding that he was senior finance manager before his elevation to the position.
He adduced that they had received a directive from the Office of the former President, addressed to the Managing Director of the corporation, and signed by Njogu Bah for the corporation to lend $1,000,000 to the Office of the former President.
According to him, the directive has stated that the loan would be refunded. But he noted that Tumbul Danso, the former managing director, and the board had agreed for the disbursement of the loan.
He posited that a sum of $500,000 was also withdrawn from the Trust Bank to be given as a loan to the Office of the former President.
Mr Cham further explained that Trust Bank could not give them the $500,000 on the very day, but the following day he was given a sum of $420,000.
He adduced that he had taken the money to the Office of the former President, where he handed it over to Njogu Bah. He then noted that the following day, he received $80,000 from the bank, which he delivered to Njogu Bah.
Mr Cham revealed that the remaining $500,000 was meant for the government of Japan, and it was paid into a particular account.
Cham said he did not know the purpose of the payment, stating further that ‘no part of the loan was paid’.
He posited that the amount was paid from the National Provident Fund account and they were not supposed to give loans to the Office of the former President.
Mr Cham adduced that efforts were made to recover the $1,000,000, and that the former Managing Director, Grayham, had directed them to write to the Office of the former President for the payment of the loan, but to no avail.
He testified that there was another directive from the Office of the former President, requesting for a loan of D6, 432,700 from the corporation. But he said they did not know the purpose of the loan, adding that the amount was paid to Amadou Samba for the purchase of a water tank.
He said they had instructed Trust Bank to provide Amadou Samba with the amount, adding that it was not forwarded to their board. Cham said they took an action, because the directive came from the Office of the former President.
He testified that the loan was also taken from the National Provident Fund account, adding that it wasn’t paid.
Mr Cham said that when they discussed with Njogu Bah for the payment, the Office of the former President promised to pay the loan, adding that Amadou Samba was then the chairman of their board.
He adduced that it was the responsibility of the management of the corporation for any failure by the Office of the former President to effect the payment of the loan.
He revealed that there was another loan of D10, 000,000 to KGI for the purchase of Tobaski rams, adding that it was the former Managing Director, Mr Gibba, who had instructed Trust Bank to transfer the sum of money to KGI accounts.
He testified that the matter was not taken to the courts, neither was there any instruction from the Office of the former President regarding the loan.
Mr Cham agreed that it is only the board that could approve loans to be given out, further positing that people who were serving the Office of the former President did so out of fear.
He said the loan was not paid, and ‘it was an internal breach.’
He adduced that other Tobaski rams were purchased under the instruction of the Office of the former President, and that a sum of D15, 000,000 was withdrawn for the purchase of the Tobaski rams from the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
He said the loan was taken from Trust Bank, adding that the directive was signed by Njogu Bah,
According to him, the money was withdrawn from the Injuries Compensation Fund account at the Trust Bank. “There was another instruction from the Office of the former President for a loan of $4,500,000 for the purchase of another aircraft, which was signed by Njogu Bah.”
He revealed that a loan of D148, 500,000 was also given to the Office of the former President for the purchase of an aircraft, signed by Njogu Bah.
According to him, the money was transferred from the National Provident Fund account at the Trust Bank. He stated that the beneficiary was Insured Aircraft Company, but he didn’t have any idea as to whether the aircraft was purchased.
Mr Cham adduced that another loan of $85,704 was given to the Office of the former President for the purchase of an aircraft. He said the matter was not taken to the courts, but he did not even know whether the aircraft arrived in The Gambia.
He testified that the loan was not paid to the corporation, as earlier promised.
He posited that “if you do not follow directives, something would happen to you,” adding that these are the things “you cannot question”.