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Graham abuse of office case resumes

Feb 20, 2012, 11:18 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The abuse of office case involving the former Managing Director of Social Security Housing and Finance Corporation, Edward Graham, resumed recently at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

Testifying as the fourth prosecution witness was Paul Bahoum, former finance manager of Home Finance Company, who told the court that, as the finance manager, he was responsible for the finances of the company, adding that he doubled as the company secretary.

He told the court that he was offered a contract at the said company which was never renewed, and he was later appointed as finance manager.

He said Omar Baldeh was his assistant, and the general manager of the said company was Omar Sarr.

Mr. Bahoum testified that the application papers of Ancha Jammeh for the position of finance manager were presented to him by the general manager, but after reading the said application, he realized that she was not the type of person for that position, and he advised the general manger to advertise the vacancy in the local newspapers for a suitable candidate for the position.

He added that Ms Jammeh was appointed as finance manager, and he (Bahoum) was offered two months’ contract by the general manger to train her.

He said he later wrote to the general manager withdrawing from the contract, because what was required was to train her and not to put her through; adding that the two months was not enough for her to be put through.

 Still testifying, Mr. Bahoum said after that he did not know anything about Ancha Jammeh, until when he was called at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency to give a statement regarding the case.

The former finance manager testified that there is a board which set up a panel to interview candidates for employment, and it is the board that appoints anybody to the system.

Under cross-examination, Mr. Bahoum told the court that he had AAT and had over 40-year experience,  adding that he acquired his AAT in 1981 and had worked as audit assistant, and he also worked with the Gambia Ports Authority and SSHFC, among others.

When told that he did not get that experience from any university, the witness replied in the affirmative.

At that juncture, defence counsel further put it to the witness that academic knowledge is acquired in a university, while experience is acquired on the job, and the witness responded in the positive.

Mr. Bahoum also agreed with the defence that in accounting “you study finance, as well as some aspects of economics.”

Mr. Bahoum further testified that Home Finance Company and SSHFC are separate legal entities, and that Omar Sarr was not answerable to Edward Graham.

Counsel Camara also asked whether he knew that Omar Sarr was the secretary to the board of Home Finance Company, but Mr. Bahoum said he did not know that.

Counsel further asked whether he was aware that Omar Sarr took the minutes during Ancha Jammeh’s appointment, and the witness replied: “I did not know.”

Responding to another question asked by the defence, Bahoum told the court that he had seen Jammeh’s application letter, but he did not see her qualifications.

Counsel Camara again put it to the witness that Ancha Jammeh had Bachelors with distinction in economics and banking. The witness said “Ok”.

Bahoum further agreed with the defence that BSc is a higher qualification than AAT, but he was quick to add that he did not know the content of a BSc course.

“Are you telling this court that an AAT holder can be a finance manager and a BSc holder cannot be finance manager,” counsel asked, but the witness replied that an AAT holder is a trained accountant.

When shown the letter of employment of Ancha Jammeh (Exhibit A1), Bahoum told the court that it was signed by Omar Sarr of Home Finance Company addressed to Ancha Jammeh.

The case was then adjourned till 5 March 2012, for continuation.