By Yankuba Jallow
Lebanese businessman and dealer Tony Ghatta and Company, continue to testify before the Janneh Commission of Enquiry on the 24 August 2017, at the DJembe Hotel in Kololi. The Commission is set up to probe into the assets, financial and other dealings of former President Jammeh and his associates.
Alhamdulillah Petroleum Mining Company (APAM), is believed to be associated with former President Yahya Jammeh and is alleged to owe government millions of Dalasi for failure of non-payment of royalties and other dues.
On Thursday, Mr. Tony Gathas who said his company was subcontracted to carry out some work with APAM, told the commission that he served as the Director of the Company for eight months and was answerable to General Saul Badjie of the Gambia Armed Forces. He admitted that he was the Director of four or more Companies; that he was appointed by the office of the President but received directives from General Badjie.
Alhamdulillah Petroleum Mining Company (APAM), is alleged to be associated with former President Yahya Jammeh, and that the company owes the government of the Gambia, millions of Dalasi as royalties.
Mr. Ghattas was asked by the Commission to provide transaction documents that shows that he receives directives from General Badjie but expressed clearly that the majority of his transactions with General Badjie were verbal and few among these, was done face to face. “We have never documented our transactions with General Badjie,” he said.
He agreed at the time he was manager, that he was responsible to sign all monetary transactions including the dollar accounts; that he has no absolute power to sign documents but was subjected to the consent of General Badjie; that General Badjie employs staff of the Company.
The Commission further asked him why he was answerable to General Badjie when his employment terms and conditions does not depict this and when General Badjie was just a soldier. In his response, he said he was told to meet General Badjie the day he received his appointment letter from the office of the president, given to him by Noah Touray; that after 8 months of service as a Managing Director he was demoted to the position of Deputy managing director of APAM. He disputed that he did not use the APAM building at the Standard Chartered Bank House at Kairaba Avenue and did not take over any staff from Ansumana Jammeh, except the watchman.
“I was operating APAM at Ghatsin offices and I was the signatory to the dalasi account I inherited from Ansumana Jammeh,” he said. He said he later opened a dollar account as well as an account at FI Bank when the GT Bank account was closed. He said APAM was selling sand and started mining high mineral concentration in October lasting for over a month.
He said the company was involved in transporting heavy mineral concentrates from the Sanyang Mining Center to Banjul Port for shipment; that he has a company named ‘Multi Shipping,’ registered two years ago and its responsibility is to receive wheat vessels; that he has 49% as his share capital in a company named Ghatsin Company Limited whilst Muhammed Basir and co., have 51%; that now he and his wife are the shareholders.
Mr. Ghattas was told to return this week to give more information and shed more light on his company’s dealings with the former president, the former government and the associates of the former president.