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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Former SG Bayo denies knowing about Jammeh’s gold coins

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By Baba Sillah

Former Secretary General Dr Kalilu Bayo and Solicitor General Secretary Cherno Marena yesterday reappeared before the Janneh Commission for the second time as investigation into former president’s financial dealings and close associates continues.

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Continuing with his testimony, Dr Bayo denied knowing anything about the supply of gold coins from Dubai to the former president for the celebration of July 22nd despite documents for the supply bearing his signature.
According to him, when the president goes for private holidays he does withdraw monies from his account, saying that the president should not be a signatory to any account but rather he was only supposed to append his signature on bills to enable them become laws and not signing of cheques.

Dr Bayo said they operated in a volatile situation as the former president does whatever he feels like, adding that it was difficult to advise him on certain matters because he has a bad temper.
He informed that a €65,000 payment from Sky Bank Gambia Limited was in respect of a video documentary made for Jammeh as well as the payment to BPI Tourism and Syrian Doctors, respectively.

He said when he was appointed as SG, he found the president’s practices were entrenched and his signatory to account was abnormal necessitating him to summon a meeting with the Minister of Finance and some staff so Jammeh would know the status of those accounts and how transactions were made but according to him, nothing came out of his suggestions until he was removed from office.

He said if travel allowance was made at all, then it was supposed to come from the national budget but could not tell whether payments on gold coins among others made to Jammeh were official.
The Solicitor General and Legal Secretary, Cherno Marena who appeared before the Commission for the second time, dwelled on arbitrations involving Gambia Government and CONARPRO Company Limited. He said the Gambia Feed and Food Industry Project was subjected to arbitration in 2010 and the investors CONARPRO had a contract with the government for the supply of heavy fuel to GNPC but the contract was terminated by Gambia Government and the company claimed the sum of $32,000,000 for damages. He said the case was still on when the new government came but the government was ordered to pay $4.6 million as settlement after a legal tussle in the United Kingdom.

According to SG Marena, the office of the secretary general was informed when the settlement was reached but he did not know the exact conclusion of the office.

Marena further said that GFFI was supposed to be owned by the government as far as the settlement agreement was concerned, noting that there was no legal advice regarding the contract between the government and CONARPRO which he said was signed by the office of the president.

On Gallia Holding Joint Venture for the purchase of two ferries, he said the arbitration arose after the ferries were purchased which could not operate and the company offered to sell its shares amounting to €4.2 million but their offer was rejected by the government. He said the company also claimed loss of profit and the arbitration was challenged which he said is still ongoing but they are yet to have the bill of claim. He said they have met the Ministry of Justice for negotiation but their claim could not be met by the government.
Marena said hearing has not started since 2012 but the parties were given the opportunity to negotiate out of arbitration and the cabinet has been informed about the arbitration.

Testifying earlier, the managing director of GT Bank, Mr Bolaji who was summoned in connection with Gamveg Company which has Dalasi, Dollar and Euro accounts operated by one Husseine, Amadou Samba, Muhammed Bazzi and Fadia Mazegi.

Mr Bolaji informed the Commission that he has the statements of the accounts but did not have the transaction documents with him at that point.

The witness confirmed the payment of $700,000 by the Gambia Government into the Gamveg account in an attempt to purchase the company. He then produced letters and transaction documents relating to the payment into the Gamveg account, noting that the company owed the bank about $3,000,000 and that was the reason the bank was involved in the sale of the company.
He said KGI also approached the bank for a loan of $2,000,000 and SSHFC served as guarantor for the purchase of Gamveg after the government proposal failed.

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