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City of Banjul
Friday, January 22, 2021

PAC/PEC advocates check to theft at Gambia’s foreign missions

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It came after the lawmakers requested for clarification from officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the missing public funds at the Gambian Embassy in Guinea Bissau, from December 2007 to September 2014. Funds amounting to over 500,000 dalasi are said to have gone missing during the construction of a new housing project for The Gambia’s embassy in that country. 

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However, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including the permanent secretary, Mr Njogu Saer Bah, who formed a panel to take questions from the lawmakers said one Baba Gomez, a financial attaché at the embassy had allegedly absconded with part of the missing money. 

Reacting, House Majority Leader, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, said there should be proper scrutiny of prospective Gambia foreign mission employees saying “this is the third time we are confronted with this sort of fraud at our foreign consulate.”

He added: “There should be proper supervision at the time of employing people because we can’t employ criminals. We have just learnt that this Baba Gomez was found wanting by the law while he was in the country and now he was employed to work at a foreign embassy. What do we expect? Fraud! The integrity of the people must be our guiding principle in selecting new employees. More importantly, there has to be transparency and accountability so that we won’t have to wait long to uncover some of these fraudulent activities.”

On his part, Hon Sainey Mbye, national assembly member for Upper Saloum suggested that the relevant stakeholders must work together in ensuring that potential economic crime culprits at the country’s foreign embassies be brought back and tried.

Responding, PS Saer Bah said the services of Interpol could be solicited for the arrest of some of the culprits in foreign lands. He added that a solution might also be found should officials at all foreign embassies place their passports under the control of their ambassadors.    

Meanwhile, the audited report states: “We observed that a number of malpractices in the cashbook and alteration of payment vouchers amounting to D529, 007 during our scrutiny of cashbooks and payment vouchers. The malpractice was ultimately designed to defraud the embassy of its funds. An amount of D112, 462 was, withdrawn from the bank. However, these withdrawals were not posted in the cash book, and as a result, were not accounted for. This matter was also reported by the director of treasury in his inspection report…During the examination of payment vouchers, we observed that some payment vouchers were inflated; the original figures on the payment vouchers and supporting documents were altered and inflated to show higher figures than originally indicated, thus resulting to overstatement of the expenditures in the accounts. Our audit has also revealed an unaccounted fund balance of CFA 4, 025, 700 which was, at the time of its disappearance, equivalent to D232, 943.”

The report was however adopted by the lawmakers.

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