By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Sarjo Ceesay, Director of Corporate Affairs and Company secretary of GAMTEL, has revealed that the regularisation of the Company was triggered by the PAC / PEC of the National Assembly.
Ceesay said this while appearing before the ‘Janneh’ Commission yesterday, 24th January 2018.
Ceesay was summoned to produce statutory documents for Gamtel / Gamcel. He said Gamtel was incorporated in 1984 but was not in possession of the Certificate of Incorporation, but was in possession of the Memorandum and Articles of Association; that the Memorandum and Article of Association was amended twice, further disclosing that the first amendment was done in 2007 while the second one was done in 2014, when the Spectrum contract was terminated.
According to him, there was an instruction by the former president to regularise the status of Gamtel/ Gamcel; that he could not trace the original copies of the Memorandum and Articles of Association because the former Company secretary died and he did not know where to get the originals.
Documents relating to the Memorandum and Articles and Memorandum of Association, as well as a letter from the office of the former president to regularise the status of Gamtel / Gamcel were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
Mr. Ceesay further revealed to the Commission that the regularisation of Gamtel / Gamcel was triggered by the PAC / PEC of the National Assembly when they presented a report on Gamtel/Gamcel; that Gamcel was incorporated on the 17th of November 2000, and the General Manager owned 1% while 99% shares was for the Company.
The Corporate Affairs Director further stated that there were amendments when Spectrum came in 2000 and 2014. Documents relating to Gamtel/Gamcel partnership with Spectrum, a letter and other certificates were admitted as exhibits.
Ceesay testified that when they were asked to regularise the status of Gamtel, they were asked to look for partnership and as a result, they engaged the Gambia Ports Authority.
Next to testify was Mr. Ousman Jammeh, former Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service. Jammeh told the ‘Janneh’ Commission that Ex-President Yahya Jammeh felt that nobody could do better than him.
He was reappearing in relation to Gamtel/Gamcel and Spectrum sale of shares. Jammeh said from March 2007 to May, 2008, he was the Secretary General; that he served in the said portfolio from May 2011, to December 2011; that he was present when the so-called investors made their presentation to the former president; that Spectrum officials heard that Gamtel was among the best Companies in Africa and this was the reason they came to invest; that the first time he met them was at the office of the former president and was told how to improve the performance of Gamtel; that at the time of their presentation to the former president, Mr. Bazzi was present but he (the witness) was just watching; that Spectrum officials told them that they would take over the management of Gamtel.
The former Secretary General revealed that they signed a contract but there was no formal contract document presented before him as the Secretary General neither did he see a copy of the contract prior to the signing ceremony. He said the presentation indicated their intention to invest in Gamtel; that he advised the former president on the said contract with Spectrum and the former president must have told the investors to go ahead with the signing of the contract.
He alleged that the former president was not fair to him, further noting that the signing ceremony was held at the office of the finance minister; that he made some efforts to ensure that the contract would go through the right channel and Spectrum was supposed to present a financial performance of their Company to reflect on the contract document.
Mr. Jammeh confirmed to the Commission that it was correct that neither the Ministry of Finance, nor Communication or the Attorney General’s Chambers, were privy to the Spectrum contract for managing the Gamtel Gateway project; that the normal channel was not followed and the management of Gamtel were not put in the picture as well.
Responding on when exactly the investors started visiting the former president, he said that it had always been the practice prior to him becoming Secretary General but could not pinpoint the exact year it started; that the office of the former president was very busy and there was transfer of portfolio to his office.
The president, he said, was somebody who felt that nobody could do better than him; that he (witness) did not play any part in the termination of Spectrum contract neither did he has any idea of the outstanding money for the sale of Gamtel / Gamcel shares; that he was not aware that the outstanding sum was paid to the Central Bank of the Gambia.
Earlier, Mr. Fadi Mazegi, Managing Director of the Euro Africa Group, reappeared before the Commission in connection to Gam Petroleum and Mariam Yahya Jammeh Family Trust Account.
Prior to his testimony, Commission counsel Amie Bensouda, told him that he submitted a flash drive containing accounting software and accounting records for Gam Petroleum which was also submitted to Excel and was required to produce all accounting information in respect of the said Company and the Euro Africa Group respectively.
At this juncture, the flash drive was tendered by Counsel but the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Sourahata Janneh, indicated that the content of the flash drive should be printed. The witness was also urged to produce the information showing payments from the accounting system.
According to Mr. Mazegi, contracts were awarded to Global Trading Group but there were subcontracts to Global Power System (GPS) and over $7,000,000 were put into a Trust Bank account opened by Global Trading; that the contractor was paid the sum of €1,840,600 which was to be paid into a foreign bank.
He said it was his choice to subcontract the works and he believed that the total amount was paid. At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda put it to him that the Company was liable to pay taxes and other liabilities for their staff.
In response, Mazegi promised to find out and confirm to the Commission whether taxes were paid in relation to this contract as well as income tax returns.
With regard to the MYJ Account, he testified that Mr. Ahmed Hodrog is an in-law to Muhammed Bazzi and was appointed on a six–month probation as General Manager for Euro Africa Group because he (Mazegi) was busy in another project in Benin and did not have time for The Gambia; that when he came back, he found that Mr. Hodrog was working for Kanilai International Group.
On whether Mr. Hodrog was receiving payments, he responded in the affirmative; that there was an overdraft of $4,000 from MYJ account and over $4,000,000 was paid in cash into this account at Trust Bank. However Mazegi responded that he was not aware of these payments but Hodrog was reporting to Mr. Bazzi and was of the belief that Hodrog is in the United States.
Mazegi further responded that deposits into the MYJ account were not linked to Euro Africa Group. A letter authored by former Secretary General Dr. Njogu Bah, dated 12 January 2012, to Global Trading in connection to the purchase of State Aircraft was tendered and admitted as exhibit.
He testified that it was not to his knowledge whether his Company contributed to this account; that he could not recall whether they made payments to the account and that they did not have any relation with Kanilai International Group (KGI). He said he believed Mr. Hodrog was brought into the country by Bazzi and he used to go to state house to meet the former president.
At this juncture, Counsel reminded the witness that he was to produce contract documents for Global Trading in connection to construction and engineering works made by the Company as well as hard copies of accounting information from the system he presented in a flash drive.
Legal Practitioner and current Director General of Gambia Maritime Administration, Mustapha Marong, who was also one time Attorney General at the Ministry of Justice from 1995-1996, testified in connection to a loan amounting to $35,000,000 taken by the AFPRC from the Republic of China on Taiwan. According to Mr. Marong, the spokesperson of the junta at the time Ebou Jallow, brought out some documents to him to raise a loan and expressed the urgency of the documents; that he told him he (Jallow) was travelling to Taiwan that evening in respect of the loan.
He said he told Jallow that he was going to discuss it with the Solicitor General but the Captain intimated to him that there was no time and the former president was anxious; that there was a loan from ROC but Jallow did not tell him the amount; that he therefore did not have time to read the documents but signed them.
Marong informed Commissioners that he was not part of the team from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) that negotiated the loan but was told that Ebou Jallow stole some money; that the loan was never an agenda for the Council. He said no one can tell from the Ministry of Justice as to how this money was spent.
Hearing continues today at Djembe Hotel.