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Monday, October 18, 2021

Yankuba Touray recalled at Commission

By Baba Sillah

The former member of the military junta of the AFPRC, Yankuba Touray yesterday reappeared to shed more light on loans and grants awarded to the government by the Republic of China on Taiwan as well as the 3M Account.

Mr Touray told the Commission that he was not part of the delegation that negotiated the loan from Taiwan as well as the restoration of diplomatic relation neither he was aware that the former Finance Minister at the time went to China for the negotiation of the loan.

According to him, Captain Ebou Jallow led the delegation to China but the council members were not told the amount of the loan package and he did not know whether the money given was a loan or grant but he came to know the exact amount of the loan when it was ratified by the parliament.
He however said he could not remember the amount on the projects he was supervising as his duty was to go around the project sites to supervise.

He said a panel was constituted to recover the $3,000,000 stolen by Captain Ebou Jallow.
Mr Touray further revealed that the management of funds was not a direct responsibility of the council as some of their transactions were secret and was not privy to all council members.
He however explained that he was more of a field operational officer but there were members of council that were involved in the managing of funds which included former president and Captain Ebou Jallow.

However, he said he was not sure whether Edward Singhatey was part of the financial controllers. He said he was not aware whether additional complaint of $20,000,000 was made against Ebou Jallow.
When further asked about project documents under his purview, he responded that they should be at the office of the former president, noting that he was also not in possession of contract documents but most of the reports were sent to cabinet and he was directed to check them.

“I have never asked the Chairman of the Council as to how monies were managed and there was no financial report from the chairman to council neither did I see any detail report concerning the funds,” Mr Touray said while denying any knowledge of the outstanding balance of the $35,000,000 loan.
He claimed that there were institutions responsible for the recovery of the missing funds and their role as council was to ensure that they make difference in terms of managing public resources.

Further responding, he said he believed that they were accountable for loans they took on behalf of the Gambian people as well as the way and manner the country was governed.
Commission Chairman, Sourahata Janneh put to him that the AFPRC claimed to be transparent and accountable, and asked him why funds were secretly spent but he said he thought everything was alright and he even got to know some of the things from the witnesses that testified before the Commission.
He said he never knew that there was an account opened in Switzerland.
He said the objective of the revolution was to ensure that the Constitution was reviewed and served for 2 years.

Next to testify was Alieu Ngum, a retired public servant and one-time executive director of African Development Bank (ADB). He was summoned with regard to the same loan and grant from China on Taiwan.
Mr Ngum was informed that he was summoned in connection to a loan of $35,000,000 but he told the commission that the Minister of Finance at the time was Balla Garba Jahumpa.

He said his testimony would only serve as secondary information because there was a Minister of Finance at the time while he served as Permanent Secretary at the Ministry but confirmed signing the loan agreement.
He said the ministry was not involved in the implementation or programming of any project from this loan because it was captured in their accounting books. He said their development partners heard about the loans but they did not see it in the debt stock of the government.

Mr Ngum further testified that he did not know how the loan was disbursed neither was he informed by the governor of CBG at the time but assumed that the Minister might have been informed by the governor.
According to him, at some point, CBG was not audited due to unexplained loan expenditure which included the $28,000,000 loan which the former governor was tight-lipped on. He added thatthe Ministry of Finance was aware that the account was overdrawn to the tune of $28,000,000.

He said he was not in the office as Secretary General when the late Baba Jobe withdrew money on behalf of the former president and he was not aware of the authority issued by the governor of CBG concerning the said overdraft. He said auditors revealed that the money was wrongly used and should be reimbursed to IMF.
Mr Ngum told the commission that he was not privy to the arrangement of the overdraft, and he could tell very little about the withdrawals of monies by Baba Jobe. He confirmed that loans and grants were given by the Republic of China on Taiwan.

He revealed that there was a grant of $250,000 from the Taiwanese Embassy which was given to the former president. He finally testified that to the best of his knowledge, the ministry of finance was not involve in the administration of the $35,000,000 loan neither did they play any role in the recovery of the $3,000,000 stolen by Captain Ebou Jallow.

The Chief Finance Officer of Gamtel Banding Sillah, who was summoned in connection to the financing of Gamtel and various contracts entered by Gamtel on the International Gateway.
He testified that he has been a public servant for almost 30 years and had a summary of a report and supporting documents, further stating that the Department of International Operation was responsible for the management of the funds of Gamtel. He stated that Global Voice came in 2006 and that revenues were paid by the government; adding that the company started as a gateway manger in 2007.

Giving a rundown of income generated from the gateway which was paid to Gamtel by Global Voice to the tune of $10, 812,595.92 while in 2008, Oratus paid to Gamtel the sum of $7,875,358. He said Oratus contract was later terminated and there was an Interim Management from Gamtel comprising himself, acting Chief Technical Operator among others but they operated with the help of Global Voice.
He said in 2009, System 1 paid $8,653,204.53 to Gamtel while in 2010, they paid $12,770,574.05 and in 2011 they paid to Gamtel the sum of $3,021,662.

Dwelling on Tell payments to Gamtel, he said the sum of $6,216, 200.62 in 2011 while in 2012, the sum of $ 7,449,284 was paid and in 2013 they paid $4,976,803.
He said there was mobilization of funds locally to make investment, and they had a meeting with Tell but it did not go down well and it was reported to the former president that Gamtel staff were not cooperating.
According to him, he was not aware that MGI made an investment of $26,000,000 in Gamtel, further stating that there was an evaluation report which was made but he did not know what Gamtel was valued for.
Sittings continue today.

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