By Baba Sillah
The commission of inquiry into the financial dealings and assets of former President Jammeh, his family and close associates, has placed an interim order on Muhammed Bazzi, Amadou Samba and Faidi Mazegi from selling, assigning, mortgaging, charging or otherwise disposing of any of their movable and immovable assets directly or indirectly owned by them.
According to the interim order issued by the commission since 13 October, the assets include land, shares, stocks, debentures or other interests in any of their companies or businesses in or outside The Gambia pending further order of the commission or the outcome of the inquiry. The commission justified this action against the trio by stating that they have been identified by witnesses before the commission as close associates of former President Yahya Jammeh and the commission is required to investigate their activities by its term of reference.
The commission has also frozen the assets of the family and close associates of the President who are not in the Gambian jurisdiction. Prominent among them are his wife and two children, Generals Saul Badjie, Umpa Mendy, Bora Colley, and former chief of protocol Sanna Jarjue. Meanwhile, Mr Amadou Samba was yesterday spotted at the Djembe Beach Hotel where the probe into the financial dealings of Jammeh and his close associates is taking place.
He is expected to appear before the commission soon to clarify certain matters SSHFC loans and investmentsMeanwhile the director of finance at SSHFC, Mr Abdoulie Cham yesterday reappeared before the Commission to explain outstanding loans owed by Nawec to the corporation as well as the areas the corporation has invested. According to Mr Cham, the Office of the President on 28 October 2010 instructed the corporation to finance two generators that were installed at the Brikama Power Plant amounting to €1,840,600 which was equivalent to D74,517,000.
He said prior to the disbursement of these monies, they entered into an agreement with Global Trading Group (GTG) in respect of the installations of the said generators and the former managing director of the corporation, Edward Graham signed the agreement on behalf of the corporation while one Mahad signed on behalf of GTG.Mr Cham however testified that the corporation did not have any agreement with Nawec regarding the loan bu t that there were additional documents appended with Nawec regarding the project.
Mr Cham however said he did not know whether there was a board resolution with regard to this loan or how the contract was awarded to GTG.The finance officer also informed commissioners that a previous loan was given to Nawec to buy generators amounting to D180 million and there was an agreement to that effect. He said this particular loan was offset after the corporation signed an agreement with Nawec and promised to furnish the commission with documents relating to the agreement.Mr Cham at that juncture solicited permission from the Commission to explain some of the investments made by the corporation which was granted and he said they have shares in Standard Chartered Bank, CFAO, GNPC among others.
He revealed that the total equity investment by the corporation is D1.89 billion out of which D310 million is classified as non-government investments while they hold 31% investment in GNPC which amounts to D377 million.On non-performing investments, he said the two ferries, Aljamdou and Kansala were part of a joint venture between the Government of The Gambia and a Greek company called Gallie Holding Limited.
He disclosed that SSHFC was asked by the Office of the President to deposit 20% which amounted to €350,000 and the government has 45% shares while Gallie has 55%. He said the money was paid as directed by the Office of the President.Mr Cham claimed that in accounting terms, this joint venture would not be classified as an investment because there was no share certificate as in the case of GNPC.
The venture agreement was signed by Hali Abdoulie Gaye and witnessed by Pa Harry Jammeh, former Solicitor General and Legal Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.The witness further testified that the total contributions to the joint venture by the corporation was €1,750,000 out of which €350,000 was deposited into an account in Greece. Documents showing telex transfer were admitted as exhibits. He said on 30 March 2011, another directive from the Office of the President addressed to the Managing Director, SSHFC asked the corporation to finance the construction of slipways amounting to €900, 975.
This amount, he said, was also deposited in the same account in Greece.Mr Cham said with regard to the joint venture, there was 45% for both SSHFC and GPA while 10% was for Ministry of Finance but the ministry backed out on grounds that they did not have funds. He said currently, Gallie is involved in arbitrations with The Gambia Government.The next investment he said was the Gambia Animal Feed Project which was a directive from the Office of the President after the visit of the ‘Qatari’ investors.
He said the corporation was asked to contribute 65% which was equivalent to $7,000,000 out of which $4,550,000 was paid after a board resolution.Mr Cham finally told the commission that he knew nothing about investments in a company called Conapro because the corporation only acted on the directives they received from the Office of the President. He said the company is not operational as of now and there is no benefit for the corporation for the investment they made in the company.Sittings continue today.