By Mamadou Dem
The Director of Finance at the Social Security Housing and Finance Corporation [SSHFC], Abdoulie Cham yesterday revealed that Kanilai International Group (KGI) owes their Company the sum of D1.7 Billion.
According to him, the debts owed by parastatals and some companies to the SSHFC amounts to billion and millions of dalasi.
The parastatals and companies he outlined were, Gambia Radio And Television Services [GRTS], Gambia Groundnut Corporation [GGC], Kanilai Group International [KGI] and other institutions.
According to the SSHFC Finance Director, KGI owed the company 1.7 billion dalasi as a loan, GRTS for over D37million while the GGC owed over two hundred and twenty-two million dalasi, being a loan given to them by the Corporation respectively.
Mr. Cham also told the Commission that the Corporation has spent $4,500,000.00 for the purchase of a State Aircraft as well as the numerous debts owed by Government to the Corporation.
Mr. Cham however said Government has promised to pay the loans after series of engagement but the reply they received from the parastatals was that they are not responsible for the debts rather the loan that was given to them by Government.
He was however asked by the Commission to provide the Audit and Management reports for the past 7 years, on his next appearance before the Commission.
Mr. Cham earlier revealed that the sum of one hundred and fifty-two million dalasi or $4.5M, was spent by the Social Security for the purchase of an aircraft for State House.
Mr. Cham also to explained numerous debts owed to Social Security by Gambia Government among others.
According to him, in September 2012 a letter emanated from the office of the former President asking Social Security to give a loan amounting to $4,500,000.00 equivalent to D152, 000,000.00, for the purchase of an Aircraft for State House. He said they considered the said letter authored by Dr. Njogu L Bah, former Secretary General, as a directive from the office of the former president and there was an earlier letter dated 28th of August 2012 from the same office, requesting the same SSHFC, to disburse the sum of D10,000,000.00 as additional payments for the purchase of an aircraft.
At that juncture Mr. Cham disclosed that there was an agreement between Gambia Government and SSHFC concerning these loans. When asked who the beneficiaries were in respect to the purchase of the aircraft, he said:‘‘Insure Aircraft were the beneficiaries of the $4,500,000. I never saw the aircraft and I don’t know whether it was purchased neither do I know whether it was delivered.
He said there were further instructions from the office of the former president for funds to be disbursed to that office in respect to the same aircraft. “The total outstanding sum owed to SSHFC for the acquisition of the aircraft is over D152, 000,000.00,” he revealed.
Responding to Commissioner Saine, the witness said he does not have documentation on the acquisition of the aircraft and it wasn’t their responsibility to ensure that the aircraft was in place because there was no binding contract between Social Security and the supplier but rather the office of the former president. He added that the loan agreement between Gambia Government and SSHFC was signed by Nuha Touray former Secretary to Cabinet, Njogu L Bah and Edward Graham, former Managing Director SSHFC.
Commission Counsel, Mrs. Amie Bensouda applied to tender documents on the 4.5M Dollars for the purchase of the aircraft from the National Provident Funds (NPF) as well as the loan agreement between GG and SSHFC and related documents as exhibit. They were admitted and marked accordingly.
On the issue of Social Security assisting fraudulently with pensions funds as put to him by Commissioner Saine, the witness disagreed on grounds that there were correspondents between SSHFC and the Ministry of Finance. Commissioner Saine intimated to him that he had every right to stop giving out loans because the six loans given out by SSHFC were never paid. Mr. Cham said he couldn’t stop the loan and he acted in compliance with his Managing Director.
However Commissioner Saine insisted and told him that being the Director of Finance, he has ownership and responsibility to withhold loans because he had an upper hand in the negotiation, to make sure that the aircraft was delivered. Mr. Cham reiterated that SSHFC never had a contract with the supplier of the aircraft but rather it was the office of the then president; that SSHFC was not invited in the acquisition of the aircraft.
The next directive from the OP to SSHFC in 2013 was in relation to CAF and European League Package, 2013-2014 and the sum of €200, 000.00 equivalent to D9,152,000.00 at the time, was in connection to GRTS airing the said league, the witness said.
According to him, the loan agreement was between SSHFC and GRTS but that GRTS insisted not to pay on grounds that the request was from the OP and not the National Broadcaster. This loan according to him was also from the NPF. Commission Counsel Bensouda then applied to tender the documents relating to the €200,000.00 CAF-European League and 2013-2014 as exhibit. “I did not find out whether GRTS made money from the sponsorship,” said Cham.
Another request from the office of the President for Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC) was disclosed but prior to that the Ministry of Agriculture wrote to the office of the then president for a mechanization program and following this, another letter was sent to SSHFC by the office of the then president through the then secretary General Njogu Bah requesting for a loan amount of D57, 092,000.00 which he said was paid by Trust bank. “This was treated as loan to GG / Ministry of agriculture because the ministry of agriculture was the beneficiary of the farming equipment,” he buttressed.
“I don’t know whether the equipment or farm implements were received,” said the witness. He added that Trust bank was the one that received the Shipping documents and not SSHFC; that MOA should receive the shipping documents.
The officer in charge of financial affairs at SSHFC said they have engaged the government on the loan and there are correspondents to justify that but the loan (D57, 092,000.00) remains unpaid. Documents relating to farming implements from John Deere, amounting to the said sum were also admitted as exhibits.
Commission Members will enbarked on a site visit today and sittings will continue on Thursday 5th October 2017.