By Baba Sillah
The assistant director of forestry, Malang Jassey has revealed to the Janneh Commission that Westwood Company owed the department of forestry the sum of D2, 580,000 from the years 2014 to 2016 for the exportation of timbers.
Mr Jassey who was redeployed to the forestry department in 2014 also confirmed that the said company exported over eleven thousand containers of timbers.
He was summoned with regard to the Westwood Company in his capacity as the assistant director of the department of forestry.
According to him, he held the position since November 2014 and Muhammad Jaiteh is the director who is currently out of the jurisdiction.
He said he knew the name of the said company through their file, stating that the company was authorized by the former president to export timber.
Jassey stated that he did not see any file indicating that the company was registered.
Next to appear before the inquiry was Lamin Barrow, the chairman of the timber association who was also summoned in connection with Westwood Gambia Limited.
In his testimony, Barrow said his association was informed that Westwood was taking over the exportation of timbers but he did not know who was behind it as he was out of the jurisdiction then.
He said they were told that anyone who wanted to export timber should inform the said company, and that this was communicated to his vice chairman Baboucarr Jammeh.
Assisting the chairman of the association, Baboucarr Jammeh the deputy chairman told the Commission that in 2014 he was approached by some people including the managing director at Ocean Bay Hotel in a meeting where he was told that they wanted to see those dealing in timber business.
He said one of the exporters told him that Westwood took over the exportation of timber and they were charged $ 4,000 and subsequently reduced to $3, 000.
Mr Jammeh further acknowledged that there was a letter from the forestry department which was shown to him, noting that their treasurer had a phone call from General Saul Badjie that if they did not comply they will send some soldiers to arrest them. He disclosed that some Chinese businessmen paid $3,000 to Westwood for exportation of timber.
At that point, Mr Barrow came in again and told the Commission that they sold the timber to Chinese businessmen who would export them, noting that they paid clearance fees of D9000 in 2010, then D1000 to customs, D2500 to Gambia Chamber of Commerce and D2500 for bill of laden.
He also said the total payment for the whole transaction was about D12, 000, adding that they would write to the former president to resume operation which was going on-and-off before the business was finally closed.
Sittings continue today.