Saturday, July 20, 2019

At the ‘Janneh’ Commission: More Bank Executives, Auditor General Testify


By Mamadou Dem

Mr. Attican Dibba, Principal Banking Officer at the Central Bank of the Gambia, Karamba Touray, Auditor General and the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Bolagi, yesterday testified before the ‘Janneh’ Commission of enquiry.

Mr. Dibba was summoned in connection with the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative or HIPC Account opened at the said bank on the 9th July 2007, upon request from the Office of the Accountant General while Mr. Touray dwelled on an audit report carried out at the Gambia Food and Feed Industry, GFFI, by his department, upon request from the office of the former President. Mr. Bolagi was ordered to produce numerous documents including the Sales Agreement document on Gamveg Oil Company.

According to Dibba, request for withdrawals from the said account usually emanates from the office of the Accountant General and on the 24th December 2010, the sum of D131 Million was credited into the account; that on the 18th July 2011, there was a transfer of $700,000.00 into Gamveg Account at Trust Bank and the request was from the Accountant General’s office.

Mr. Dibba revealed that on the 21st December 2010, there was a letter from the Ministry of Finance to the Directorate of the National Treasury and copied to Central Bank, for the sum of D2,000,000.00 to be paid to Christians for their Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He said there was a user fee for the national broadcaster GRTS, amounting to D8, 000,000. The witness at that point disclosed that the sum of D305, 657,341.14 was the total sum deposited into the account and there was a withdrawal of D295, 105,905 leaving a balance of D10, 551,466. Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda at that point applied to tender the Account opening information and statements of Accounts to be admitted as exhibits.

Next to reappear was Momodou Sabally, former Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, who came with a bunch of email correspondences on Gallia Joint Venture Agreement and other related matters. He said one of his subordinates Adama Ngum, sent him an attachment regarding the Joint Venture Agreement at the time he was the Director of Budget. Responding to Commission Counsel, he said he has the power of attorney authorising him and Kebba Touray former Finance Minister, to serve as signatories to the Joint Venture Agreement for the purchase of Aljamdou and Kansala ferries.

Mr. Sabally testified that the reasons he drew the attention of the Commission to the Power of Attorney was to inform them how he derived his authority to become a signatory to the Account as well as other correspondences addressed to him; that this will also show that he was not acting alone. He claimed that when he was the SG at the time, their Greek counterpart sent him an email which he replied for the matter to be resolved amicably. The former Presidential Affairs Minister finally testified that he was not involved in The Gambia Food and Feeds Industry Project but he was informed by the former president when he was appointed as SG. He said at some point, the former president was not happy with the project and demanded for an audit to be carried out but he couldn’t remember whether he (Sabally) ordered for an audit.

Mr. Karamba Touray, the Auditor General also gave evidence on the audit report on GFFI and testified that the audit was conducted upon request from the office of the former president but prior to that there was a verbal directive; but that he insisted that this should be formalized. According to Touray, an audit was carried out and he has the final report which he produced before the Commission. This was accordingly admitted as exhibits with other relevant information. When asked by Commission Counsel Bensouda what the findings of the audit report was, he said he has the management report with other relevant information and recommendations which he produced and was admitted as exhibits. Mr. Touray finally testified that the current assets and liability of the Company is D4.5 million; that the company has a board but they have never participated in the management of the Company.

Earlier, the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr. Bolaji provided the Business Sales Agreement of Gamveg Company; that there was an endorsement on the agreement but he couldn’t remember who endorsed it. According to him there was a loan agreement between KGI and Guaranty Trust Bank on the two million dollars loan given to KGI and with the SSHFC serving as the guarantor; but that KGI did not comply with the loan agreement making it necessary for the bank to notify SSHFC and informed them; that they told SSHFC that they were going to offset their account and the sum of D80, 000,000.00 was debited from SSHFC account equivalent to $2,000,000.

Counsel Bensouda at that juncture tendered the bunch of documents including the loan agreement, sales agreement, board resolutions and related documents in evidence, as exhibits.

Sitting continues on Monday, 13th November 2017.

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