#Article (Archive)

Home Finance GM spills the beans in Graham trial

Jul 8, 2011, 1:14 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Omar Sarr, General Manager of Home Finance Company Gambia Limited, a subsidiary of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC), yesterday made startling revelations in the trial of Edward Graham, former Managing Director of the SSHFC, who is charged with economic crime at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul.

Graham who is alleged to have, between January and December 2010 in Banjul, been employed in the public service as Managing Director of the SSHFC, willfully caused the loss of D73,000 to Home Finance Company Gambia Limited.

Sarr, who testified as the first prosecution witness, gave details covering his occupation, the appointment of Ancha Jammeh as the Finance Manager, among other things.

He told the court that he lives at Brusubi and that Home Finance Company is a subsidiary of the SSHFC that owned 90% shares of the company, adding that he knew Ancha Jammeh, Finance Manager of the Home Finance Company.

He recalled that during one of their meetings, prior to the appointment of Ancha Jammeh, that he was told by the chairman of the Board of Directors of Home Finance Company that the contract of Paul Bahoum, Finance Manager, will expire and that the company needed a replacement.

“The Chairman then asked the accused person to assign someone or any other qualified person from the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, who would replace Paul at the end of his contract, and the accused person responded in the positive.

“After sometime, the accused called informing me that a person by the name Ancha Jammeh brought her application for the said post,” Sarr told the court.

He stated that after going through Jammeh’s application, he noticed that the applicant studied economics and that she also lacked experience in finance and accounting.

He said after noticing that, he went back to the current holder of the position to seek advice, and Paul said the lady was not the right person for the job.

Still testifying, Sarr said he later contacted Graham after seeking advice from Paul, but Graham insisted that they go ahead and call the applicant for an interview, noting that under normal circumstances you can go for a qualified person or advertise the post.

Sarr further testified that Graham was interested in having Ancha Jammeh to handle that post, adding that the applicant was then called for an interview and, after a couple of days, Graham called, asking whether a letter of appointment was sent to Ms Jammeh.

“At that time, I told Graham that the appointment letter was not sent, but he (Graham) insisted that I must write the letter. I drafted the letter and sent it to the accused person, who said the letter was OK. I sent the appointment letter to the applicant and, upon receiving it, she also wrote an acceptance letter of her appointment,” he testified.

He said the applicant then started work, but was informed by her that she was not conversant with accounting software, because she has no experience in the work she was doing.

He added that the accused then suggested that the company should hire Paul again to train Ancha for two months, an offer Paul accepted.

Sarr, however, told the court that after Paul’s discussion with Ancha to know how conversant she was with accounting, Paul then wrote back to the company declining the offer, because the lady has no background in accounting.

He further told the court that he also spoke with Graham with regard to Paul’s letter, but he asked them to get someone else to train Ancha.

“We then contracted Com Tech, a company that provides IT service to Home Finance Company,” he added.

According to Sarr, Com Tech came up with a proposal for the training and the change of the software was to the tune of D73,000.

“The company took the offer and the training was conducted for Ancha and her deputy,” he stated.

The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, S.H. Barkun, through the witness tendered in court multiple documents, including the appointment letter of Ancha, the decline of offer letter of Paul Bahoum, among others, as prosecution exhibits, which were marked without any objection from defence counsel L.S. Camara.

The case was at that juncture adjourned till 18th July 2011, for cross-examination.