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Former SSHFC MD Graham jailed

Feb 16, 2012, 12:51 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Former Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) Managing Director Edward Graham was yesterday sentenced to a one-year mandatory prison term with hard labour, following his conviction for economic crimes by the high court presided over by Justice Emmanuel Nkea.

Indicted since May last year, Graham was also ordered by the court to pay the state D73, 000 within three weeks, failing which he will spend another one year in jail.

Graham was accused by the state of causing the loss of D73, 000 to the Home Finance Company, a subsidiary of the SSHFC.

In delivering his judgment, Justice Emmanuel Nkea opined that the state has provided enough evidence to secure the conviction of the former SSHFC boss.

According to the judge, the prosecution in order to prove its case called four witnesses, while the convicted person opened his defence, but failed to call any material witness.

He noted that Graham had denied the charges preferred against him.

“In order to secure the conviction of the accused, the court is looking at two issues for determination: 1) Whether there was an act or omission on the part of the convict and (2) whether the act caused damage to the state”.

Justice Nkea added that the SSHFC is a public corporation established by an Act of parliament, and it owns 90% of shares at Home Finance Company.

The accused person was the managing director of the SSHFC by virtue of which he was part of the board of directors of Home Finance Company, the judge noted.

“I am convinced from the evidence of PW1 (Omar Sarr) that he was under the influence of the convict to employ Ancha Jammeh as the company’s accountant, despite being not fit for the said post. He (the convict) played an integral part in Ancha’s appointment at Home Finance Company,” the judge told the packed court room.

The trial judge also said PW1 was under the instruction of Graham to appoint Ancha, because her (Ancha’s) application letter was forwarded to the company by Graham, which showed that he had an interest in getting the job for Ancha.

Noting that SSHFC has significant influence in the Home Finance Company, as it owns 90% of its shares, the trial judge said PW1 in his evidence repeated that Graham was putting pressure on him to see Ancha Jammeh’s appointment effected.

Justice Nkea further stated that despite the fact that Ancha was not fit for the post, the General Manager of Home Finance Company under the influence of Graham went ahead to appoint Ancha, thereby hiring an accountant to train her, which the judge believes resulted in the loss of the said D73,000 in question.

In his plea of mitigation on behalf of his client, lawyer Lamin Camara told the court that Graham is a middle-age man and a qualified chartered accountant with two wives and children, adding that imposing a custodial sentence on him will have a long-term effect on his family.

“The convict has rendered invaluable service to the government of the Gambia over the past 25 years. I am urging your lordship to temper justice with mercy, and the court should put into consideration the recovery of the amount in question” Camara said.

The Director of Public Prosecution, M. Abdullahi, who led a team of state counsel, noted that the convicted person is a first-time offender according to records.

The judge in response said despite the convict has been remorseful and had lost his job, the court will not lose sight of the offence, noting that the convict was occupying a public office, which was given to him based on trust and confidence.

He said Graham failed the trust bestowed on him by authority, and that his act constituted favouritism in the workplace, which he said should not be the case; instead promotion and appointments must be based on merit.

He subsequently passed the above sentence.