By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Fadi Mazegi, Managing Director of Euro Africa Group, and Director of Gamveg Oil Company, yesterday told the Janneh Commission that he was not involved in the sale of Gamveg Oil Company Limited.
Mr. Mazegi made this revelation when his attorney, Victoria Andrews, appeared at the said Commission, to explain a letter of credit for the sum of €826,310 in favour of one Nucci Danniele and Co. Commission Counsel, Amie Bensouda, put it to him that he was the MD for Gamveg Oil Company Limited but he responded in the negative and added that he was the director. On why he became signatory to the account, he informed the Commission that it was because Mr. Bazzi was not available; that he was not involved in the sale of Gamveg Oil Company, as discussions of the sale was directly done by Muhammed Bazzi.
According to him, the Ministry of Finance at the time promised to give protection to Gamveg Oil Company, and he knew that the sale of the company to the then government did not go through. Further responding to counsel, he said he was aware that $700,000 being public funds, was never refunded to the former Government by Gamveg.
Mr. Mazegi, was also summoned in relation to a letter of credit to the former president’s Foundation account amounting to €826,310 which Euro Africa took responsibility of. He said he received a phone call from Mr. Bazzi, telling him that the former president had instructed them to write a comfort letter to Trust Bank Gambia Limited; that however, they never did as were ordered because the money was not meant for Euro Africa Group and Trust Bank was reluctant to open a letter of credit.
At that juncture, Counsel Bensouda put it to him that he was paying some money into the account but the witness said they did not contribute to the transactions of the account. The business magnate further explained that the animal feeds which were imported from a Company in Italy, were meant for cattle belonging to the former president.
Mrs. Bensouda asked the witness whether he was concerned as Managing Director of Euro Africa Group that public funds were diverted to a charitable organisation and he responded that Mr. Bazzi told him he would discuss with the former president and that he was comfortable. Documents relating to the said amount, were tendered and admitted as exhibits, as well as all correspondences between Gamveg Oil Company, GT Bank and ex-president Jammeh, in relation to the sale of Gamveg to the former Government. The witness was further shown documents in relation to some transactions on the account which he confirmed to the Commission. According to him, the $612,000 paid to Global Trading Company, was for the purchase of ten vehicles for the AU Summit; that the contract was negotiated and he was part of the transaction; that they were dealing with the Ministry of Finance. He added that it was Global Trading that supplied the cars and he would do the transactions while Euro Africa Group would receive the money on behalf of Global Trading.
It was put to him that hence Euro Africa Group received payments on behalf of Global Trading, then they were expected to pay taxes for every transaction. But the witness said their company is tax compliant. However, Magezi could not remember how much was paid for the rental of the forty vehicles used for the AU Summit.
Some lists of documents that were supposed to be provided by the witness were not availed to the Commission. However, Magezi’s attorney said they have written to the Secretariat, informing the Commission on some of the challenges they are faced with in retrieving some of the documents, including the accounting software for both Euro Africa Group and Gam petroleum. They promised to furnish the documents requested. Documents relating to contracts that were awarded to different Companies in relation to NAWEC works, were admitted as exhibits.
Next to testify was former Secretary General, Lamin Nyabally, who testified that he was Deputy Ambassador and Charge D’Affair at the Gambian Embassy in South Africa but was recalled in March 2017; that he finally came back in November 2017.
Mr. Nyabally was summoned in connection with payments made from the GNPC accounts which he confirmed to be a signatory; that the former president approved certain transactions and payments like scholarship and construction works at state house were also made.
According to him, the former president did not take over the account when he was Secretary General. At that point, a document was given to him in relation to Gai Enterprise Construction but he said he had never seen the contract, further stating that he was instructed by the former president to effect payments; that the storey building at state house was for offices as well as a bus park but that he did not know the cost of the contract. When asked whether he ever visited the site where the construction of the building was done, he responded in the negative. Payments of D10, 000,000 to Gai Constructions from GNPC, Access and Skye Bank accounts was in relation to the same contract.
On the payment of €80,000 to Studio Tech in Belgium, he said this was for the provision of broadcast materials for GRTS; that it was approved by the former president and the payment of over € 120,000 was meant for the State Aircraft which was paid to GIA from the same account. There was another payment amounting to 1,320,000 CFA and authorized by the witness and Sulayman Samba, to one Sheikh Tijan Njie, in relation to MV Bintang Bolong Vessel. He said the environment was such that you cannot question the former president for certain directives. He added the president would only direct them to make payments from any account he wished, and if he instructed them, they dare not challenge his instructions or directives which he said might lead to consequences.