Friday, October 18, 2019

Government Orders Social Security to takeover Ocean Bay, Sun Beach Hotels

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The Government of The Gambia has issued orders to the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation to takeover the management of Ocean Bay and Sun Beach from BPI.

Here is the full government’s decision on the White Paper with regards to Mr. Nicolai Buziainu and Mr Dracos Andre Buziainu.

Mr. Nicolai Buziainu and Mr Dracos Andre Buziainu are Romanian businessmen. Nicolai is said to be the uncle of Dracos. Former President Jammeh appointed Mr. Nicolai ambassador at large, and Gambia’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. They were both declared close associates of former President Jammeh on 16th April, 2018.

The Buziainus were business partners of former President Jammeh, and with him, invested in the following companies:

BPI Tourism and Services Ltd (BPI)

Westwood Gambia Limited (Westwood)

Westport Logistics Limited (Westport)

Mineral Company of The Gambia Limited.

The Commission found, inter alia, that by the executive directives and/or influence of former President Jammeh; two hotels located at Cape Point and belonging to SSHFC, Ocean Bay Hotel and Sun Beach Hotel were respectively leased to BPI. The terms of both leased were heavily influenced by former President Jammeh, no competitive and due process was not followed. The negotiating terms on behalf of SSHFC felt constrained in each case to accept the terms offered by BPI because of perceived influence by former President Jammeh. BPI borrowed $5 million from Westwood by a loan agreement dated July 2014 for Ocean Bay Hotel, and $2 million for Sun Beach Hotel. These monies were never paid.

The Commission found that BPI Investment Group FZE, and Kanilai Family Farms Limited owned Westwood with equal shares of 50%, Mr. Gabriel Acaram Nakalaeh signed on behalf of BP Investment Group and General Salayman Badjie signed on behalf of Kanilai Family Farms. The Commission further found that by the authorization of former President Jammeh. This was followed by a further authorization from Department of Forestry. All exports had to go through the said company at an extortionate and imposed fee of $3000 per container which the members of the Timber Association were compelled to pay. In this way, Westwood controlled the timber business throughout the country. The total benefit derived by Government including Customs charges and Forestry fees was D16,700 per container, i.e. less than $400 per container. A total number of 15,106 containers were exported from the country by Westwood between 2014 and 2017 (according to GPA records) at $300 for the total value of $45,318,000 illegally earned by Westwood from the export of timber. $7,810,115 was received by General Sulayman Badjie as dividend on behalf of Kanilai Family Farms i.e. former President Jammeh. BP Investment Group FZE drew down $4,939,040 as dividend. No withholding tax on dividend at 15% was paid.

The Commission found that Westport, a sister company to Westwood with the same shareholding structure – 50% BPI Group and 50% KFF – was incorporated in April 204. Westport was granted the concession agreement to scan all containers at the ports. Westwood facilitated a mobile cargo scanner installed at the airport with the loan of 2.6 million euros and a further D20,288,000. Furthermore, the Commission also found that another company, Mineral Company of The Gambia (MCG), was incorporated in 2013. The two shareholders are a company registered in Dubai called Amira Overseas Free Zone Establishment for 50% , and the remaining 50% was split between APAM Limited and Kanilai Family Farms Limited together. The Commission has already found elsewhere in its Report that APMA was neither incorporated nor registered and was in effect an illegal company in The Gambia. Mr. Nicolai Buzaianu signed on behalf of Amira Overseas, and Mrs. Fatou B. Jammeh signed on behalf of APAM and KFF. MCG bought gold refining equipment from Italiapianti Orapispa which was installed at Banjul International airport but was never operated.

The Commission found that the activities of former President Jammeh and the Buziainus had a devastating effect on our environment. Former President Jammeh, for his personal gain, created a demand for timber which led to accelerated deforestation as civilians cut down trees indiscriminately to feed the demand. This also undermined the role and ability of the Forestry Department to regulate the timber business, and the laws designed to protect our forest resources. Former President Jammeh, to facilitate his deforestation scheme, embarked upon the annexation of the country’s forest resources. This activity will take the country many years to recover from.

The Commission found that Westwood and related companies. Westport Logistics Limited, BPI Tourism and Services ltd, Mineral Company Ltd, were incorporated for the sole purchase of engaging in further illegal activity of former President Jammeh and his close associates Nicolai Buzaianu, Dracos Buzaianu, Acaram Naklaeh, and General Sulayman Badjie. Furthermore, Westwood avoided paying taxes. The Withholding Tax on the dividend payment of $12,749,155 alone would have been about $1,912,000. Other taxes owed to Gambia Ports Authority are in excess of D250,000,000 for the period of the monopoly.

The Government accepts the findings of the Commission in so far as they relate to Mr. Nicolai Buziainu and Mr Dracos Buziainu. Accordingly, the Government accepts the Commission’s recommendation that Mr. Nicolai Buziainu and Mr Dracos Buziainu should pay back to the State the sum of $45,318,000. Consequently, all properties including assists, companies, shares and other acquisitions of Mr. Nicolai Buziainu and Mr Dracos Buziainu are hereby forfeited to the State for sale. The proceeds of sale shall be applied to the payment of monies for which Mr. Nicolai Buziainu and Mr Dracos Buziainu, and all companies associated with them, are found liable in the Report.

Moreover, the Government has also decided that the lease of the two hotels, Ocean Bay and Sun Beach, by SSHFC to BPI be immediately terminated. SSHFC is hereby ordered to henceforth takeover the management of the two hotels as it sees fit.

The following companies, associated with Mr. Nicolai Buziainu and Mr Dracos Buziainu and former President Jammeh, are hereby permanently banned from conducting business in The Gambia:

BPI Tourism and Services Ltd (BPI)

Westwood Gambia Limited (Westwood)

Westport Logistics Limited (Westport)

Mineral Company of The Gambia Limited.

Furthermore, Mr. Nicolai Buziainu and Mr Dracos Buzianu are hereby declaredpersona non grata and specifically banned from Gambian territorial jurisdiction.

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