By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Balla Jassey, the proprietor of Mobicell Blue Ocean Wireless and Multimedia Gateway Incorporation (MGI) companies, and who is also a telecom expert, yesterday appeared before the Janneh Commission in connection with MGI Swiss on the management of the International Gateway of Gamtel.
He told the commission that he is a telecom and IT expert with 20 years’ experience but had never worked in the public service, adding that MGI and Mobicell are limited liability companies but are separate entities. However, he said Mobicell is an IT telecom company and focuses more on telecom services.
On Mobicell, he said he owns 95% while his wife, Rabiatou Fatty, owns 5% share.
At this juncture, he told the commission that he was in possession of the Certificate of Incorporation, Memorandum and Article of Association, Business Registration Certificate, Annual Returns and GPPA certificate of both companies which were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
According to him, Mobicell and MGI are connected and had two contracts for the management of the international gateway. However, he said MGI Swiss gave technical support to the Multimedia Gateway Incorporation (MGI Gambia) and Mobicell for the management of the gateway.
He said the management of Gamtel Gateway was outsourced to his company (MGI) who paid its staff on the ground but was not managing the gateway directly. Mrs. Bensouda however told him to furnish the commission with financial transactions, including invoices they submitted to the Swiss company. However, he confirmed that they were paid for the technical service they provided for the management of the gateway and had invoices for the projects they were contracted for.
Dwelling on the management of Gamtel Gateway, he said both companies participated in the international gateway. At this point, Commissioner Saine interjected and asked him why Mobicell and MGI were not joined as one company. He responded that due to the nature of their profession, coupled with specialty, the companies could not be put under one umbrella.
The telecom expert informed the commission that he at times resorted to MGI for the implementation of projects that were not suitable for Mobicell, adding that initially he concentrated on Mobicell as a telecom consultancy but now it is involved in implementing projects.
He said the reason for not involving Mobicell in the implementation of projects was because the required experts were limited or lacking but has now absorbed people with the knowhow.
Responding further, he said there were no specific financial arrangements with MGI Swiss but rather it was based on the invoices they submitted to them.
At this juncture, Commissioner Saine asked him to give his educational background and he responded that he has a Bachelors and double Masters in IT and telecom engineering and had worked in various parts of the world before he set up his own companies.
The witness was asked by counsel whether he had the returns of 2015, and he responded that they were in his office and was told by the commission to produce the said returns before the commission.
Mr. Jassey was also asked if he had the transfers of shares of his company. He replied that he believed his legal adviser would be able to produce them, adding that one late Kebba Ceesay was a shareholder in the said company and he was not in possession of the shareholder documents involving the late Ceesay.
He acknowledged that the difference between Mobicell and MGI was that they had two different agreements, one of which was in May 2014 which was for Guinea-Bissau and other countries, noting that it was MGI that was involved in this agreement.
He said Mobicell was involved in the October 2014 agreement which he said was for The Gambia.
Mr. Jassey told the commission that both companies were responsible for the management of GAMTEL, noting that Mobicell was first incorporated in 2011. He testified that Mobicel, MGI and the Gambia were involved in the management of the gateway.
At this juncture, the witness produced a document that covered their relationship with MGI-Swiss. It was later put to him by counsel that MGI Swiss was managing the gateway. In response, he said he was responsible for his technical staff.
However commission chairman Sourahata Janneh asked the witness whether MGI Swiss and MGI Gambia was a coincidence, he replied in the affirmative.
Further testifying, he told the commission that he knew MGI Swiss through one British national and he had a contract with the said British in 2010.
At this juncture, Chairman Sourahata Janneh asked him whether he left all those jobs abroad just to set up a company in The Gambia. In response, he said he resigned from Cisco and returned to the Gambia and later started doing consultancy services for Standard Chartered Bank, GT Bank, Trust Bank and Gambia Police Force.
He explained that the E-government was implemented by him. He finally stressed that he was just involved technically.