By Mamadou Dem
Numerous cash withdrawals and transfers amounting to millions of dollars in various accounts within and outside the Gambia from the Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) Accounts at both Skye and Guaranty Trust Banks, were revealed to Commissioners yesterday.
The Managing Directors of the said banks gave a rundown explanation backed with statements showing financial transactions of the former President and staff under his purview.
Mr. Momodou Lamin Bah, Accountant General who was ordered to furnish the Commission with the information the last time he appeared, yesterday continued with his testimony before the said Commission. He submitted Budget Estimates ranging from January 2010 to 2016 respectively and added that the Budget Estimates for 2017 is still pending. Regarding supplementary budget allocations, Bah said he will find out if there was any.
At this juncture, the seven books of budget estimates from 2010-2016 were admitted as evidence. The accountant general disclosed that in 2015, the budget for Ministry of Petroleum was over ten million dalasi while in 2016, it was D9,151,716.00 (Nine Million one hundred and fifty-one thousand, seven hundred and sixteen dalasi only).
According to him, there was no budget development for the said ministry for the years 2015 and 2016 respectively. He said he is not aware whether the said ministry has a private bank account because it was not in their accounting records. “All account openings must be authorized by the Minister of Finance,” Bah said. He said that sometimes, accounts are opened in commercial banks without the knowledge of his office; that funds from donor agencies to government institutions or ministries are categorized under below the line account. Accounting General Bah further testified that Accounts like Carnegie Minerals were treated independently. “I have been accountant general since March 2014,” he responded when asked how long he has served in this position. At that juncture, counsel intimated to him that he will be needed from time to time in respect of the budget estimates and other accounts respectively.
The Managing Director of Skye Bank, Doyin Adegbulugbe, was recalled to produce the bank accounts of Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC). He said GNPC has four bank accounts at Skye Bank; that the account bearing the number 102177003158 was opened in 2012 and at the time of opening, the signatories were Teneng Ba Jaiteh, Momodou OS Badjie and Fafa Sanyang (the current Energy Minister). According to him, the shareholders included the following: Gambia Government 80%, NAWEC 10% GAMTEL 4%, GIA 3% and GPA 3%. At that point, he produced the account opening information with respect to the dalasi account and statement of accounts, from 1stJanuary 2012, to 21st August 2017.
Account opening information and statement of accounts were admitted as evidence. He said the first dollar account was opened on….. while the second dollar account was opened on the 30th May 2012, with the same signatories as that of the dalasi account; that however, on the 13th August 2013, the bank received a letter instructing the change of signatories to ex- President Jammeh and Momodou Saballly and the change of signatories were effective the next day. Mr. Adegbulugbe further testified that at the time of changing the signatories, the balance in the account was $4, 215, 329.28. Prior to this revelation, the statement of account for the second dollar account, were also admitted and marked accordingly.
Dwelling on the withdrawals that were made on the second dollar account bearing account number 1770031538, the witness disclosed that a cash withdrawal of $650,000.00 was done by Momodou Sabally on the 14th of August 2013 and that on the 16th of August of the same year, Sabally withdrew the sum of $150,000.
He adduced that there was another cash withdrawal of $650,000.00 on the 20th August, 2015 by Madun Sanyang; another withdrawal of $450,000.00 and $100,000 by Madun Sanyang again; that on the 23rd of September 2013, they received instructions from Office of the President (OP) signed by Momodou Sabally and the ex-President, to transfer the sum of $224,900.00 from this dollar account to the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
According to the Skye Bank boss there was another withdrawal of $200,000.00 in December by one Sanna Jarjue adding that the sum of $77,288.40 was debited in July 2015 to BPI Tourism and Services. “There was a transfer of $125,715.33 to Gambia International Airlines.” He said fourteen thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight pounds equivalent to $22,283.44, was also transferred to Teneng Camara as tuition fees.
On the 18th of May, 2015 there was transfer of tuition fees for Amadou Gitteh amounting to $92,912.00 equivalent to €80,000.00
Earlier, Mr. Bolagie of Guaranty Trust said he did not have the account of GNPC. He said GNPC has dollar and dalasi accounts as well as a Euro account. However, he was asked to produce the documents of the said accounts but he said they had a board meeting today. He confirmed to the commission that he has the account of the Ministry of Petroleum which was opened in 2015 by Sira Wally Ndow which he said, is a dollar account. Bolagie further disclosed that he has the ID of Sira Wally Ndow and Ex-President Jammeh when he was asked by counsel Bensouda. According to him, on May 3rd 2015, Sira Wally Ndow’s signature was removed but was later added in 2015 and was quick to add that he has the bank statements of the said account which the counsel applied for and admitted as exhibit. “Do you know the purpose of the account?” counsel quizzed. “It was opened by the ministry of petroleum and the sum of $3, 884,655.19 was deposited into the account,” said the witness.
Another transaction of $500,000 was paid to the ministry of petroleum by cash which was collected by Sanna Jarjue on behalf of the Ministry, noting that another transaction was done by Sira Wally Ndow under the authorization of the ex-President. He added that another sum of $500,000 was withdrawn by Sira Wally Ndow. According to him, there were several withdrawals by Sira Wally Ndow on her own instructions but he did not know the purpose of the transactions. “Another cash withdrawal of $100,000.00 by Sira Wally Ndow on her own instructions but I did not know the purpose of the withdrawal,” he expounded.
Mr. Momodou OS Badjie, former Managing Director of the Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), currently serving the Assets Management and Recovery Corporation (AMRC), testified that he was appointed as Director of GNPC in January 2008 to January 19th 2016 when he was arrested and detained.
“I came in June 2017 and was later redeployed to AMRC and I was Director of Finance at the National Roads Authority prior to coming to GNPC. From February 1991 to December 1998, I worked at GAMTEL as Senior Internal Auditor,” said Badgie. According to him GNPC was a public enterprise owned by the Gambia Government before it became a corporation; that it was a registered company. At that juncture, Memorandum and Article of Association for Incorporation was admitted as exhibit.
Mr. Badjie testified that during his tenure as MD, he received directives from the former President and has inherited liabilities from companies. He said in October 2006 there was a loan of $45,300.00 which was transferred to the account of the President Empowerment for Girls Education Project (PEGEP). There was a letter instructing Trust Bank Gambia Limited to transfer the said sum into PEGEP’s account.
There was an additional cash payment of $1,000.000 (One Million US Dollars). “This was cash payment to Omar Gibba, then working at the Office of the President as Chief Protocol. On the 10th of December 2006, there was another payment of $20,000.00 to the Office of the former President,” he revealed.
The former Director further expounded that there were additional loans to the office of the president amounting to $303,000.00 for Calabasas California of the Wales Family. “I don’t know what the purpose of these monies were meant for. On April 5th, 2012, there was a loan request from OP for rehabilitation of Prisons and the sum of $10,000,000.00 was paid to the then Secretary General, Njogu Bah,” Badjie disclosed.
“I did not deal with the prison authorities directly rather the said SG. I can’t remember the Director of Prisons at the time and I don’t know whether the prisons were renovated,” he added.
“On the 6th of August 2013, we made payments of $500,000.00 to the Office of the President through the then Secretary General, Momodou Sabally. $250,000.00 was paid in cash while the other $250,000.00 was converted to dalasi by cheque equivalent to D9, 000,000.00. I personally with Mandu Sanyang handed over the money to Mr. Sabally and Nuha Touray and they signed for receiving the money,” he reacted.
“I was asked by the office of the President to write a comprehensive statement on statements of accounts from 2010 to 2013 respectively. We asked the office of the President to allow us use the monies recovered from companies dealing with oil in the Gambia to be treated as a grant and not revenue. We built nine Petrol Stations across the country. Petroleum house was also funded from these funds. From 2010 to 2013, GNPC granted the sum $16,000,000.00 as loan to the office of the president and I submitted this money to the office of the President,” he testified.
Documents submitted by the witness in respect of executive directives such as covering letters of loans to PEGEP, Prisons Rehabilitation amongst others, were admitted as exhibits.
“Tenenba Jaiteh and Sira Wally Ndow were the Ministers of Petroleum and sometime the president will be the minister. The said one million dalasi withdrawal was not done during my tenure as managing director but it was a directive from the Office of the President. Initially you will believe that the loan will be paid back but later you will realize that it will not be paid,” Mr Badgie explained.
Mr Badgie further disclosed to the commission that on May 5 2007, a payment of $633,000.00 was paid for eleven air tickets to the Future Travel Agency for Franky Paul dancehall band. He finally testified that all the directives from the Office of the President were never brought to the attention of the GNPC board members.
Next to be called was the deputy managing director of the Gambia Ports Authority, Ousman Jobarteh, who appeared for the managing director, who is currently out of the jurisdiction, for an official mission. According to him, he has worked for the company for 25 years and went through various ranks; that currently he is the deputy managing director, the position he held for 3 years now. Mr Jobarteh testified that the former president was involved in the activities of the company. He said there were services provided to the Kanlai Family Farm which were not paid for; that one of the transactions at the ports is an outstanding amount of D6.9 Million.
Mr Jobarteh is expected to continue his testimony today. However, he was advised by counsel to come with his team so as to enable him substantiate his testimony.