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Saturday, October 31, 2020

‘GNPC paid D633,000 to fly in Frankie Paul’

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By Baba Sillah

Momodou OS Badjie, the former managing director of Gambia National Petroleum Corporation, has yesterday told the Janneh Commission that the GNPC paid D633,000 for eleven tickets to the Future Travel Agency to fly in Reggae artist Frankie Paul and his dancehall band to The Gambia in May 2007.
Testifying before the commission, the former GNPC boss further disclosed that the company was a registered public enterprise owned by Gambia Government before it became a corporation.

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He said during his tenure as MD, he received directives from the former President and had inherited liabilities.
He said in October 2006, a loan of $45,300 was transferred to the account of President’s Empowerment for Girls Education Project (PEGEP) from the GNPC. “There was a letter instructing Trust Bank Gambia Limited to transfer the said sum into PEGEP’s account.

“There also was an additional cash payment of $1,000.000 (One Million US Dollars) to one Omar Gibba, then working at the Office of the President as Chief Protocol,” he said.
Mr Badjie further said that on the 10th of December, 2006 another payment of $20,000 was made to the Office of the former President.

The former GNPC director further disclosed an additional loan to the office of the president amounting to $3, 3000 was disbursed to Calabasas California of the Wales Family. “I don’t know the purpose of these monies” he said, adding that on April 5th, 2012, there was a loan request from the office of the President for the rehabilitations of Prisons and a sum of $10,000,000 was paid to then Secretary General Njogou Bah.

“I did not deal with the prison authorities directly, rather it was SG Bah I dealt with. I can’t remember the Director of Prisons at the time and I don’t know whether the prisons were renovated,” he added.
It was also revealed that on August 6, 2013 a payments of $500,000 was made to the Office of the President through the then Secretary General, Momodou Sabally; out of this $250,000 was paid cash while the other $250,000 was converted to dalasi by cheque equivalent to D9, 000,000.

“I personally, with Mandu Sanyang handed over the money to Mr Sabally and Nuha Touray and they signed for receiving the money,” Mr Badjie said.
He said he was asked by the office of the President to write a comprehensive statement on statements of accounts from 2010 to 2013.

“We asked the office of the President to allow us use the monies recovered from companies dealing with oil in the Gambia to be treated as a grant and not revenue. We built nine Petrol Stations across the country and Petroleum House at Brusubi was also funded from these funds. In 2010 to 2013, GNPC granted the sum $16, 000, 00 as loan to the office of the president and I submitted these monies to the office of the President,” Badjie said.

The former GNPC boss then presented documents in respect of the executive directives such as covering letters of loans to PEGEP, prisons rehabilitations amongst others.
Continuing his testimony, Mr Badjie said Teneng Mba Jaiteh and Sira Wally Ndow were the Ministers of Petroleum during these times and at some point the former President was himself Petroleum minister.
“Initially you will believe that the loan will be paid back but later you will realise that it will not be paid,” Mr Badjie explained.

He finally testified that all the directives from the Office of the President were never brought to the attention of GNPC board members.
Next to be called was the deputy managing director of Gambia Ports Authority, Ousman Jobarteh, who appeared for the managing director currently out on official mission.
Mr Jobarteh testified that the former president was involved in the activities of the GPA.

He said there were services provided to the Kanilai Family Farms which were not paid for, adding that one of the transactions at the ports is an outstanding amounting to D6.9 Million.
Mr Jobarteh is expected to continue his testimony today. However he was advised by counsel to come with his team so as to enable him substantiate his testimonies.

Meanwhile Momodou Lamin Bah, Accountant General and bank managers of Guaranty Trust and Skye banks, respectively, continued their testimonies.
When he re-appeared before the Janneh Commission yesterday, Bah submitted Budget Estimates from January 2010 to 2016 but indicated that the Budget Estimates for 2017 is still pending.
With regard to supplementary allocations, Bah said he will find out if there was any.

At this juncture, the seven books of budget estimates from 2010-2016 were admitted as evidence. The accountant general disclosed that in 2015, the budget for the Ministry of Petroleum was over ten million dalasi while in 2016, it was D9, 151, 716 (Nine Million one hundred and fifty-one thousand seven hundred and sixteen dalasi).

According to him, there was no budget development for the said ministry for the years 2015 and 2016, respectively. He said he is not aware whether the said ministry has a private bank account because it’s not in their accounting record.
“All account openings must be authorized by the Minister of Finance,” said Bah. He said that sometimes accounts are open in commercial banks without the knowledge of his office, adding that funds from donor agencies to government institutions or ministries are categorized under below the line account.

Accountant general Bah further testified that accounts like Carnegie Minerals were treated independently. “I have been accountant general since March 2014,” he revealed.
At that juncture, counsel intimated to him that he will be needed from time to time in respect to the budget estimates and other accounts.

The managing director of Skye Bank Doyin Adegbulugbe was recalled to produce the bank accounts of Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC). He said GNPC holds four bank accounts with Skye bank. He said the account bearing the number 102177003158 was opened in 2012 and at the time of the openin,g the signatories were Teneng Mba Jaiteh, Momodou OS Badjie and Fafa Sanyang (current Energy Minister).

According to him, the shareholders include Gambia Government 80%, NAWEC 10%, GAMTEL 4%, GIA 3% and GPA 3%. At that point, he produced the account opening information with respect to the dalasi account and statements of accounts from 1st January, 2012 to 21st August 2017.

The account opening information and statements of accounts were admitted as evidence. However on the 13th August, 2013 the bank received a letter instructing the change of signatories to ex- President Jammeh and Momodou Saballly and the change of signatories were effective the next day.
Mr Adegbulugbe further testified that at the time of changing the signatories the balance in the account was $4, 215, 329.28.

Prior to this revelation, the statement of account for the second dollar was also admitted and marked accordingly.
Explaining the withdrawals that were made on the second dollar account, the witness disclosed that a cash withdrawal of $650,000 was done by Momodou Sabally and on the August 14, 2013 and on August 16 of the same year, Sabally withdrew the sum of $150,000.

He adduced that there was another cash withdrawals of $650,000 on August 20, 2015 by Madun Sanyang. “There was another withdrawal of $450,000 and $100,000 by Madun Sanyang again. And on September 23, 2013, we received instructions from Office of the President signed by Momodou Sabally and the ex-President to transfer the sum of $2, 24,900 from this dollar account to the Organization of Islamic Corporation (OIC),” Mr Adegbulugbe recalled.

According to the Skye Bank boss, there was another withdrawal of $200,000 in December by one Sanna Jarju while the sum of $77,288.4 was debited in July 2015 to BPI Tourism and Services. “There was a transfer of $125,715.33 to Gambia International Airline.”

He said fourteen thousand one hundred and twenty-eight pounds, the dollar equivalent of $22,283.44 was transferred to Teneng Camara as tuition fees.
On the 18th of May, 2015 there was a transfer of tuition fees for Ahmad Gitteh amounting to $92,912 equivalent to €80,000.

Earlier, Mr Bolagie the MD of GTB said he did not have the account of GNPC. He said GNPC has dollar and dalasi accounts as well as Euro account. However, he was asked to produce the documents of the said accounts but he said they have a board meeting today.

He confirmed to the commission that he has the account of Ministry of Petroleum which was opened in 2015 by Sira Wally Ndow which he said is a dollar account. Bolagie further disclosed that he has the ID of Sira Wally Ndow and Ex-President Jammeh when he was asked by counsel Bensouda.
According to him, on May 3rd, 2015 Sira Wally Ndow’s signature was removed but was later added in 2015 and was quick to add that he has the bank statements of the said account, which the counsel applied to be admitted as exhibit.

“Do you know the purpose of the account?” counsel quizzed. “It was opened by the Ministry of Petroleum and the sum of $3, 884,655.19 was deposited into the account,” Mr Bolagie replied.
According to the GTBank boss, another transaction of $500,000 was paid to the Ministry of Petroleum by cash which was collected by Sanna Jarjue on behalf of the Ministry, noting that another transaction was done by Sira Wally Ndow under the authorization of the ex-President. He added that another sum of $500,000 was withdrawn by Sira Wally Ndow.
According to him there were several withdrawals by Sira Wally Ndow on her own instructions but he did not know the purpose of the transactions.

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