Former Justice Minister, Hawa Sisay-Sabally summons

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By Baba Sillah

Hawa Sisay-Sabally, a senior legal practitioner, was Thursday summoned by the Janneh Commission in her capacity as the then Minister of Justice to explain the sum of $3,000,000 transferred by Captain Ebou Jallow to a private bank account.

Commission counsel, Amie Bensouda, told her that some amount was retrieved by Central Bank and the Ministry of Justice was involved and asked her to explain exactly what the ministry did.
In response, Mrs Sabally informed that she was the solicitor general, not the attorney general at the time. She said she was the acting attorney general from 1995 and confirmed in 1997 and her services were terminated in 1998.

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Mrs Sabally testified that she was not privy to the full details of the ministry’s involvement in the efforts to recover the loot.

Ousman Njie, the acting head of Standard Chartered Bank, in his testimony, confirmed that the bank sold Premier Agro Oil Company to the former government in 2006 and there was an acknowledgement from Musa Balla Gaye, the former Finance Minister, confirming the payment of D20,000,000 in relation to the purchase of the company. He added that the sheriff division of the high court was in charge of the sale and payments were effected through the bank solicitor, Ida Drameh. According to Njie, Premier Agro Oil Company was involved in the purchase and processing of groundnut.

He recalled that the bank was dealing with the Ministry of Finance because the sale was arranged with the ministry. Documents relating to the sale of the company, including the Company’s statement of accounts showing deposits of D20, 000,000 in sequence were admitted as exhibits.

Commissioner Bai Mass Saine asked why the managing director of the bank did not appear. Mr Njie said his boss was out of the jurisdiction but he was happy to proceed with his testimony. However, it was put to him that the commission was not comfortable with testimonies that were not accompanied by documents. The witness responded that they made searches for the Kairaba Beach Hotel file but could not trace it.

Counsel Bensouda notwithstanding, urged the bank to endeavour and produce the file because there was controversy surrounding the sale of the hotel. Commission chairman Sourahata Janneh advised him to inform his boss to appear before the commission in person next time.

Mr Abdoulie Cham, former CBG financial controller, reappeared for the second time. He was asked who the proprietors of several bureaux de change such as Waychett Faling, Global Investment and Asset Management were but he could not remember some of them. Hearings resumes this week.

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