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SG leading investigations at Gambian embassy in Cuba

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By Lamin Cham

The secretary general at the Office of the President, Salimatou Touray, is heading a high level investigation team in Cuba, looking into reports of economic malfeasance and an alleged fracas between Ambassador Sheikh Tijan Hydara and his deputy, Vincent Mendy.

The two were reported to have been involved in heated altercations which ended in a physical tussle in the ambassador’s office in Havana on January 25. Both have been recalled but are yet to return to Banjul.

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The news was broken by online portal What’s On Gambia and has since been picked up by many press and broadcast outlets in the country.

A source confirmed to The Standard that at the heart of the matter and high on the investigation team’s area of interest is the alleged financial maladministration following a tip-off from the embassy’s bank in Cuba raising concern about certain movement of money from the embassy’s account to personal accounts.

In the current arrangement at Gambian missions, ambassadors are not signatories to accounts but deputy ambassadors, financial attachés and first secretaries are, in this case Vincent Mendy, Jabou Colley and Lamin Jammeh respectively.  It is not known which of these officials are involved and how.

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The team of senior government officials in Havana investigating the matter include the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lang Yabou, Alhagie Jallow from the Accountant General’s Office, and auditors Bernard Mendy and Haddy Sanneh.

Contacted for comment on the matter from Cuba yesterday, PS Yabou told The Standard: “We are trying to put the pieces together regarding the issue to be able to understand what exactly happened.” He declined to elucidate.

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