By Mamadou Dem
The newly constituted Commission of inquiry that is mandated to probe into former President Jammeh’s assets and financial dealings, yesterday 10 August 2017 commenced sittings at Jembe Hotel. Officials of three banks testified before the Commission and the Director General of GRA testified.
Testifying before the Commission, the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Gambia Limited, GTBANK, Bolaji Ayodele, informed the commission that Alhamdulilah Petroleum and Mineral Company, APAM, had both dollar and dalasi accounts in their bank.
According to him, the dalasi account was opened in August 2015; that he had the mining license agreement between the then Government and the said Company. When asked by lead counsel Amie Bensouda whether he’s willing to put the documents before the Commission, he responded in the affirmative.
At this juncture the license agreement and statements of accounts together with other relevant documents were admitted and marked accordingly. Mr. Ayodele further explained that the Mining Company did not finish up with the documentation required in opening an account as there was no certificate of registration and incorporation respectively. This he said, warranted his bank to write several letters to the Company asking them to produce an MOU together with other necessary documents.
The letters dated 10th October 2016, and 8 February 2017, were also admitted as evidence. Mr. Ayodele added that despite the demand from the bank, the company never provided them with a business registration certificate. He said APAM’s account was opened by Antuman Jammeh and on the 19th of October 2015, there was an additional signatory to the account by one Isatou Sallah; that on the 3rd of October, 2015, one Toni Ghattas was also added as a signatory to the same accounts.
He said both accounts (Dollar & Dalasi) were closed on the 8th of February 2017, upon receiving a letter seeking for its closure. He added that Samwuna Aza of Jammeh Foundation for Peace, was also one of the signatories to account no. 20320436110.
The banker manager further disclosed that the information he gave on the dalasi account applies to the dollar account as well. At that point, the statements of account from the dalasi account reveals that the sum of D61,369, 621.77 (Sixty-one million three hundred and sixty-nine thousand six hundred and twenty-one dalasi and seventy-seven bututs were deposited while the of D61, 179, 270.22 (Sixty-one million one hundred and seventy-nine thousand two hundred and seventy twenty-two bututs), was withdrawn.
With regards to the dollar account, he reveals that the sum of $660,377. 45 (Six hundred and Sixty thousand three hundred and seventy-seven dollars, forty- five cents) was deposited. No amount was withdrawn in dollars explained Mr. Ayodele to the Commission.
Mr. Ayodele further said that the source of the Sixty-one million one hundred and seventy-nine thousand two hundred and seventy twenty-two bututs was from minor cooperation’s but was quick to add that he doesn’t directly manage the account. He added that on the 24th of February 2016, there was a deposit of seven million seven hundred and thirteen thousand, seven hundred and fifty dalasis (D7,713,750).
Momodou Musa Njie, Managing Director of First International Bank (FIB) informed the Commission that it’s correct that he was subpoenaed by the state in respect to Alhamdulilah Petroleum and Mineral Company Limited (APAM). He said the said company opened both a dollar and dalasi account in their bank on the 16th of November 2016.
Documents showing the transactions of the account i.e. inflow and outflow of monies, were all admitted and marked accordingly. Prior to the admission of the said documents Mr. Njie indicated that one Woreh Njie and Toni Ghattas were the signatories of the said account. He said at the time of opening the account, there was no certificate of incorporation neither a memorandum of Article or Certificate of Business Registration.
According to him, the sum of D13.7 million was deposited and D13.4 million was withdrawn from the account leaving a current balance of D5000.00; that in respect to the dollar account, the sum of $27000.4 (Twenty seven thousand and four cent) was deposited and the depositors intimated to the bank that they were involved in sand Mining. Therefore the source of the twenty seven thousand dollars, four cents was from sand mining.
He said the sum of $25,800 dollars and $1200 were deposited on the 28thof November 2016, and both were withdrawn the following day. At that point, both correspondents from FIB to the Company were admitted into evidence and marked accordingly.
Yankuba Darboe, Commissioner General of Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) testified that he was appointed to the said position on the 8th of March 2015, and his institution was not involved in the Tax Recovery Accounts of both FIB and Guranty Trust Bank respectively.
He said he heard that the said banks received directives from the office of the President to open tax recovery accounts but his office did not have any knowledge as to who opened the accounts.
Mr. Babou Awe testified that he works at the Corporate Department of Trust Bank and that he was not operating the account. He pleaded to the commission to give them time to regularize their documents. He adduced that they have special people who deal with accounts adding that the Managing Director told him that he never knew that he was supposed to appear before the Commission.
The witness then stated that he was the one who received the Summon from the Commission for the MD to appear.
At that juncture, the lead counsel told the witness that the MD has to appear on the 14th of August, 2017.
The Accounts of Event Planning and Management, EPM, and Foni Carpentry and Construction, were dealt with and some tax recovery account from Trust Bank dated 17th September 2013, and 5th April 2017, were admitted by the Commission. Mr. Awe said Mr. Sheriff Sawneh’s account was 1,947,346 on the 7th of October 2013.
According to him D75,000.00 was debited from Sawneh’s account; that 4,485,000.00 also reflected on Mr. Sawneh’s account. He alleged that D1,396,740 was in the statement of Mr. Sawneh.
At this juncture, Omar Gibril Sallah’s statement of Account was admitted which was dated 5th December 2013. He adduced that on the 14th of May 2014, there was a transaction by the Defence Planning Management of the former president’s office; that F.M.S Enterprise had D500,000.00 transactions and there was no name on the account.
Mr. Awe further adduced that on the 19th of May and 23rd June 2015, there were payments of D974,070 and D417,175 to Foni Capentry and Construction respectively.
Meanwhile, prior to the testimonies of the afore mentioned persons, the chairman of the Commission, Surahata S Janneh, stated that they should be addressed as ‘‘Your Honour” adding that they would not allow any delay in the proceedings. He also appealed to the press to disseminate accurate information to the public. He said they are going to have the first sittings into the assets and financial transactions of the former president and associates and Journalists should ensure that justice is seen to be done. He further stated that there was no space to delay the proceedings.
Amie Bensouda lead counsel assisted by Mansour Jobe and Olimatou Danso, disclosed that she was appointed by the Attorney General and the Chairman was appointed by the president, adding that funds have been withdrawn under the instructions of the former President, and they want to know whether due process was followed in the withdrawal of these funds.