By Baba Sillah
Muhammad Bazzi, the managing director of Euro Africa Group and the largest shareholder of the company has dismissed claims that his mining company, Gamico was involved in the selling of white sands after the licence of Carnegie Mineral was terminated.
Appearing for the second time before the Janneh Commission, the Belgian-Lebanese tycoon explained that it was the Geology department and the area council that were selling sand after his company left and that he has documents to it.
He said despite Gamico being issued licence for mining, certain entities such as the Geology department, area council and the State Guard carried out the mining.
Mr Bazzi handed a sheaf of documents instructing his company to cease operations on several occasions. These were tendered by Commission counsel Amie Bensouda as exhibits in support of his testimony.
Asked by the commission whether he has a company in China for the separations of heavy mineral concentrate (HMC), he responded in the negative and added that they attempted to do the separation through a joint venture with some Chinese but it did not materialise.
According to him, Tony Ghattas, the former managing director of APAM was in charge of operations on the ground at the mining sites and he had advised him not to work with APAM because it might create “problems” for him, adding that Mr Ghattas is neither a shareholder of Euro Africa Group nor Gambia Milling Company.
On the issue of 35,000 tons of HMC left by Carnegie Mineral, Mr Bazzi said such a stockpile was never left by Carnegie and no exportation took place until in 2009 claiming that he has documents to prove so.
Counsel Bensouda tendered supporting documents provided by Mr Bazzi including the registration and incorporation of two offshore companies as well as correspondences between the then government and Gamico from 2008 to 2014.
On the issue of shareholders of Euro Africa Group, Mr Bazzi said he owns 55% share while Amadou Samba owns 45% share and the company was incorporated around 2004-2005 but dismissed the claim that the former president was a shareholder.
He added that this company was appointed as exclusive agent for the importation of fuel between 2009 and 2014 in The Gambia.
He said there was no monopoly in the importation and delivery of fuel because the Ministry of Finance determined the price of fuel and his company executed the sales.
He is however asked to provide the agreement between the Euro Africa Group and the ministry when he appears next week.
Mr Bazzi confirmed that they paid money to the Jammeh Foundation for construction of mosques and payment of salaries to doctors and also the President’s Empowerment for Girls Education Project [PEGEP] amounting to millions of dollars.
Bazzi was however asked to produce the accounts of the company as well as dividend payments.
Mr Ebrima Sallah, the managing director of Trust Bank gave evidence on the accounts held by the former president at the bank. He said he could not confirm whether the former president had 80 accounts relating to his companies. He is expected to reappear again to shed light on the accounts and