EX-FINANCE MINISTER TELLS ASSEMBLY TO INVESTIGATE OP OVER ‘MISSING’ D669M

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By Omar Bah

The former Minister of Finance, Amadou Sanneh, has challenged the National Assembly to investigate the Office of the President over the missing D669 million in accounts managed by the presidency as revealed by an audit report of 2017.

Mr Sanneh, who was in office at the time, said the assembly should take up the D669 million as its first task to make sure the signatories are held accountable, especially the president who should take responsibility.

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A National Audit Office summarised audit report on the government’s 2017 financial statements revealed that the government made withdrawals amounting to D669 million without approval from the Accountant General. The report said the money was withdrawn from “Special Security” accounts, which were closed on its [NAO] recommendations but were reopened with the same account name but with a different account number.

Since the publication of the report, fingers have been pointing at Amadou Sanneh, who was the finance minister when the withdrawals were made.

But reacting to the auditors’ findings yesterday in a Standard exclusive, Mr Sanneh said the reported withdrawal of the D669 million is news to him, saying throughout his time as minister he operated based on the 2017/2018 approved budget.

“However, there used to be a security fund under former President Jammeh and we said this should be closed because these funds were never audited and nobody dared to ask Jammeh what happened or where he got them. So when we came to office, it was decided that the account should be closed and we had hoped the account should not have continued but if the auditors have revealed that it existed in 2017, that means the same Jammeh style still continued,” Sanneh told The Standard.

 Mr Sanneh said the finance intelligence unit was instructed to ensure that nobody accessed those accounts.

“So if the accounts were reopened, then it means somebody deliberately did it. So the Office of the President has full responsibility and liability to explain how they opened those accounts and how the funds were received because apart from the budget, I don’t remember giving the Security Funds to the OP especially the tune of D669 million when the country was suffering and crying for funds. I had to even reverse the budget and reduce spending,” he clarified.

Mr Sanneh said this matter is not a UDP or political matter but a very serious matter that requires further investigations.

“The National Assembly should investigate this because if it exists like that without approval, it is criminal and the president should be subpoenaed and possibly be impeached for this because the country cannot go like this, from one case to the other. This is not the way a country should be run. People should be accountable, they should be responsible,” Sanneh said.