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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Social Security sues GGC for D203M unsettled debt – witness

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By Baba Sallah

Anthony Gabriel Carvalho, the managing director of the Gambia Groundnut Corporation has drawn the attention of the Janneh Commission to the civil suit filed against the corporation by Social Security Housing and Corporation for failure to settle the sum of over D203million it owed to SSHFC.
Mr Carvalho made the revelation as he appeared before the inquiry yesterday to shed light on the purchase of John Deere tractors for which SSHFC provided collateral to the bank.

Mr Carvalho recalled that in 2012, the GGC received a written information from the permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance asking them to open a letter of credit at Trust Bank for the purchase of the said tractors from South Africa and the sum of $2.5million as LC was made by the Corporation which was sent to the bank and the ministry respectively.

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Mr Carvalho further testified that later they received notice from the bank indicating that they have received collateral from SSHFC and after due procedures were followed, tractors were procured and the bank also spelt out their conditions.

Mr Carvalho said the ministry at the time could not open a letter of credit at the bank because they did not have an account and the GGC was requested to do so which they did but they never requested for the tractors at the time.

He further adduced that tractors were purchased but the corporation was never refunded by the government and its apparatus, further stating that over D58million was debited from their account with interest for the overdraft.

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According to him, the Ministry of Finance acknowledged owing the corporation a significant sum of money with regard to the transaction but SSHFC took legal action against the corporation for failure to settle the debt of over D203 million it owed to them with 20% interest.

Meanwhile Wurreh Njie-Ceesay the managing director of KGI who reappeared for the third time, centred her evidence on the Japanese rice grant and the purchase of Mahindra tractors.
She testified that there was a file for the tractors but there was no account at the time she took over as the managing director of KGI.

According to her, the tractors were a grant to the government but she has no idea about the tractors until when they talked to some customers and that was the time they realised that there was a sort of down payments with regard to the said tractors.

Mrs Ceesay also recalled that based on their findings and consultations with some of the customers, they found out that the company owed the state the sum of D3.5million, revealing that the total cash she received from the rice debtors when she took over as the MD was D1, 991,344 but did not know the total outstanding balance of the debt when she was appointed.
However she pointed out that at the time of her appointment as MD, the total outstanding balance for the tractors was D1.4million.

Mrs Ceesay categorically rejected any connection between KGI and West Wood Company but did confirm dealing with Euro Africa Group for the supply of fuel to the company.
She also told the inquiry that she has no relation with Amadou Samba when she assumed as the MD of the company.

On the recovery of the company’s debts, she revealed that she was informed that “Operation Bulldozer” was used in order to recover their debts but she has not witnesses about the operation.
Commission Counsel, Amie Bensouda at that point asked her to provide her salary including the staff of the company, to which the witness noted that she has never received any bonus other than her allowance.
Sitting continues today.

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