By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Lamin Camara, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, yesterday 5th April 2018, told the ‘Janneh’ Commission that on a monthly bases, Spectrum deducts $2,000,000 from the proceeds generated from the Gamtel Gate Way project.
During his testimony on the management of the GAMTEL Gateway contract between the International Telecom Companies and the former Government, Camara testified that the Gateway Project used to be managed by GAMTEL until 2006, when Global Voice Group contract was signed but later terminated; that then came Spectrum which was also terminated before the contract was awarded to System 1, TELL and finally MGI, which Company managed the Gateway Project until 2007.
According to him, there was a lot of fraud in the management of the Gateway and GAMTEL at the time was losing a lot of revenue from the proceeds. Camara who was summoned in his capacity as the then PS, Ministry of Information, recalled that when the visa license for the management of Gateway was revoked, GAMTEL used to exclusively managed the Project;
that the role of the Ministry at the time was to support GAMTEL for the agreement of the visa license for the management of the Gateway, which he said was replaced. Camara further testified that the payment by Spectrum regarding the sale of GAMTEL / GAMCEL shares to Spectrum, was not determined at the level of the Ministry.
At this juncture, Executive summons, business evaluation prepared by PKF firm for GAMTEL / GAMCEL was tendered and admitted as exhibit.
On the evaluation of the sale of GAMTEL / GAMCEL shares to Spectrum, Camara said the highest evaluation at the time was $161.2 million; that the Ministry was involved in the reverse decision by the then Government in the sale of the National Telecom and its subsidiary Company, GAMCEL.
According to Camara, Mr. Ali Charari was the one behind TELL and Spectrum while System 1 is a Spanish based Company; that the said Companies were not licensed at the time of managing the Gateway Project.
“MGI had an issue with TELL and after the termination of TELL’s contract, MGI was contracted to manage the Gateway P roject,” Mr. Camara told Commissioners.
He testified that $ 2 million was deducted from the Gateway proceeds by Spectrum every month.
According to him, Gamtel at the time was not under the Ministry of Information but under the Office of the former president.
He further told the Commission that all the staff of Gamtel were fighting for the termination of TELL Company, noting that he was not aware of the projects of MGI at the time, until he became part of the task force.
At this juncture, the situational report on Gamtel prepared by the witness for the years 2007 to 2008, was tendered and admitted as evidence.
Camara further stated that a sum of $26 million was for projects done by MGI; that the Gamcel billing system did not come to the board. He disclosed that MGI was under the office of the former president, disclosing that there was a letter from the said office that the Gateway was under the office of the former president and anything relating to it, should be directed to the office of the former president.
At this juncture, Commissioner Saine asked the witness whether he could comfortably say that the former Government benefited from the Gateway Project and he answered in the positive.
He was further asked by Commissioner Saine whether there was anybody in the former Government who could have made informed choices. In response, Camara told Commissioners that he believed if the management was not performing, then it needed a replacement. Camara responded that at the level of the office of the former president, it is the Secretary General who handled such matters.
Camara narrated his ordeal which allegedly happened between him and the former Gamtel Managing Director while alleging that twelve of Gamtel Staff were demoted when Mr. Balla Jassey of Mobicell Group, sought for a license relating to telecom work.
Sittings continue on Monday 9th April 2018.