By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Karamo Jawara, the Principal Banking officer at the Central Bank of The Gambia yesterday told the Janneh Commission that the Office of the then President instructed the bankers bank to pay trust bank over D88,356,000 for the purchase of tent for State House
The witness revealed that the Office of the Former President has twenty-two bank accounts at the Central Bank of The Gambia.
Among the bank accounts he recalled were, International Gateway Account, Special Project Vision 2016 account, State Aircraft Special Account, Green Industries Account, Fish Landing Account, the Office of the First Lady, Ministry of Petroleum Account, Special National Security Account and SABC Account.
According to Mr Jawara, among these twenty-two accounts some were dormant while others were active noting that those were the ones he mentioned earlier and the day before as well.
Mr Jawara who began his evidence on the transaction of the International Gateway Account stated that the said account was opened on September 26, 2013 by the Office of the President at the Central Bank and controlled by that office which he said is a dollar account.
Mr Jawara testified that the signatories to the said account were Nuha Touray and Momodou Sabally but later Sabally was replaced by Momodou Sallah in 2015. Counsel Bensouda at that point applied to tender the change of signatories and opening information of the account from 2013-2014 as exhibits,
According to the CB official, the total amount deposited into the said account from 2013-2014 was $5,421,732.98 and the amount withdrawn was $5,421,410.61 and the balance left was $292.00.
The first withdrawal, Mr Jawara recalled was $310,000 which was withdrawn by Momodou Sabally and was received by Momodou Batata Juwara under the directive of Sabally.
The next debit transaction according to him was on 30th of September, 2013 and the amount withdrawn was $300,109.73 which was received by Momodou Batata Juwara under the directive of former Secretary General, Momodou Sabally. He said another withdrawal was made on the 21st of March, 2014 amounting to $305,621.80 which was paid to the office of the president under the directives of Momodou Sabally and ex- President Jammeh.
According to him, there was another transaction on the 16th of May, 2014 and there was a withdrawal of $54,067.45 signed by Jammeh and Sabally respectively. He said there was a cash payment of $1,000,000.00 to Mr. Sabally but received by Sanna Jarju. On the 13 May, 2014, there was a transaction amounting to $85, 880.08 paid to Competent Company Limited signed by Nuha Touray and Sabally respectively.
Testifying further, the banker revealed that on the 14 May, 2014 there was a payment of $35,332.61 to FI Bank and the beneficiary was Sendola Safari Lodge but the purpose was not stated. He said on the 14th May, 2014, $95,000.00 was paid to African Union Broadcasting for FIFA World CUP which was signed by Nuha Touray and Sabally again.
The next transaction was on the 21st of May, 2014 and $750, 000 was paid to Sabally but was received by Buba I Demba on behalf of Sabally and on the same date, $100,000.00 was paid to Sabally, by office of then president which was signed by both Messers Sabally and Touray but the money was received by Makam S.K Bah on behalf of Sabally. He adduced that another $70,000.00 on the same date was paid to Makam S.K Bah on behalf of Sabally.
Mr Jawara further adduced that on the 29th of May 2014, the sum of $248,942 was paid to TK Motors signed by Sabally and Touray and on the 4th of June, 2014 $250,000 was received by one Sanna Jarju on behalf of Sabally. On the 10th June, 2014, he added, there was a reversal of $44, 633.4 and on the same day $97,209.00 was sent to Gambia Embassy in Washington for maintenance and tuition fees. On the same day he said $9,943 was paid to Yai Conteh for tuition fee which was signed by Sabally and Nuha Touray. He added that on the 17th of June, 2014, $873,362.43 was paid to Makam SK Bah on behalf of Sabally.
Mr Jawara further disclosed that the next transaction was on the 24th of June, 2014 and the sum of $44,633.40 was sent to Washington signed by Sabally and Touray, but the purpose was not specified. He said on the 26th of June, 2014, the sum of $100,000.00 was paid to former Secretary General, Momodou Sabally but was received by Nuha Touray.
According to him, on 2nd July, 2014 the sum of $43,117.96 was paid to University of The Gambia as students’ tuition fee signed by Nuha Touray.
Further testifying before the Janneh Commission, the witness further recalled that on July 3, 2014 the sum of $132,669.24 was transferred to Barclay Bank for the purchase of New Africa Magazine which was signed by Nuha Touray and Momodou Sabally.
The official further revealed that on July 4, 2014 the sum of $120,000 was paid to Art Contemporary in Rabat, Morocco for the purchase of VIP carpet for the Office of the then President which according to him was signed by Nuha Touray and Momodu Sabally and after all the transaction on the said account showed the balance left was $292.37.
On the account of the Special Project Vision 2016, the Central Bank official recalled that the account was opened on July 4, 2014 and the amount deposited was $45,194,083.05 while the amount withdrawn was $45,171,420.05 leaving the balance of $22,623.
According to Mr Jawara, the former President was the sole signatory to this account and the first credit transaction was $1,600,000, noting that there was nothing on paper to indicate that the Governor of the Central Bank was aware of the opening of this account. Mr Jawara recollected that the last transaction from this account was on January 2017 and the amount withdrawn was $99,000 however he did not reveal who this money was paid to.
Continuing with his testimony, Mr. Jawara revealed that there were about one hundred and twenty-three withdrawals from the Special Project Fund Account at Central Bank authorized by former exiled President, Yahya Jammeh; adding that on the 15th of June, 2014, there was a debit of $300,000 signed by former president Jammeh and received by former Chief Protocol, Sanna Jarju. On the 23rd of June, 2014 there was another payment to Sanna Jarju in the sum of $700,000.00 under the instruction of Jammeh.
Mr. Jarju is also alleged to have received $600,000 under the authority of the same person. On the 31st of June, 2014 there was a cash payment to Nuha Touray amounting to $700,000.00 authorized by Yahya Jammeh.
The witness testified that on 31st of June, 2014 the sum of $300,000.00 which is equivalent to over 12 million dalasi was received by Touray under the authority of the former President. He said on the 13th of August, 2014 the sum of $100,000 equivalent to over 42 million six hundred thousand dalasi was received by Sanna Jarju as authorized by the then President. On 21st August, 2014 a request was signed by Abdoulie M Sallah for the disbursement of $1,000,000.00 out of which $500,000 was for Sierra Leone while the other $500,000.00 was paid to Guinea Conakry in support of Ebola outbreak.
At that juncture, Mr. Jawara told the Commission that he did not bring along the copies of those transactions but Counsel Bensouda intimated to him that he should provide them. Still on the financial transactions, he said on the 30th of September, 2014 there was cash payment to Mr. Alhagie Ousman Ceesay, former chief of protocol amounting to $1,000,000; adding that Mr. Ceesay received additional payments of $500,000 on the same date.
The witness further informed the Commission that Mr. Ceesay also received payments of $4,69,593.80 and on the 18th of September, 2014 the sum of $700,000 was paid to Mr. Ceesay as authorized by Jammeh; adding that on the 30th of September the same year another $700,000 was paid to Mr. Ceesay under the same authority. He said on the 8th of October, 2014, Jammeh ordered for Mr. Ceesay to be paid the sum of $300,000
According to him, on the 14th of October, 2014 there was an authorization from Jammeh for Mr. Ceesay to receive the sum of $500,000 while on the 3rd of the same month and year, he again requested for Mr. Sanna Jarju to receive $4,096,841 and on the 3rd of October 2014, there was additional payment of $500,000 to Sanna Jarju.
Revealing further the witness said on the 27th of October, 2014 the sum of $200,000 was paid to Mr. Jarju again while on the 6th of October, 2014 the sum of $500,000 was signed by Mr. Abdoulie Sallah requesting for assistance for the provision of necessary supplies for the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Guinea and there was another disbursement of $1,000,000 which was equally shared among the two countries. He was quick to add that these payments were different from the previous one.
On the 6th of October, 2014 $700,000 was paid to Sanna Jarju and on the 29th of October 2014, the sum of $100,000 was paid to General Sulayman Badjie and on the 10 of December 2014, $700,000 was paid to Sanna Jarju on the instructions of the former president. On the 17th of December, 2014 $1,095,000.5 was also paid but he couldn’t spot out the purpose of that transaction. However, Mr. Jawara explained that a voucher was raised for the said sum to be transferred. “You need to find out the supporting documents,” counsel Bensouda hinted.
On the 8th of January, 2015 the sum of $1,000,000 was further paid to Sanna Jarju under the authority of Yahya Jammeh and on the 29thof January, 2015 the said Jarju received $500,000 while on the 23rd of February, 2015 he received another payment of $500,000.
According to Mr. Jawara, on March 25th 2015, a debit of $750,000 was paid to Mr. Jarju again and there was an additional payment of $250,000. A debit of $300,000 was made on the 6th of March, 2015 which was also paid to Sanna Jarju.
He said Central Bank was instructed by office of the former President to pay to Trust Bank the sum of $4,986,000 (Four Million Nine hundred and Eighty-Six thousand) which he said was over D88,356,000 for the purchase of tents for State House which was supposed to be paid back in instalments.
According to him, the said sum relating to the purchase of tents was debited from Social Security Housing and Finance Corporation (SSHFC) Account. When asked by the Commission whether the sum for the purchase of tents was categories as “Special Circumstance” the witness said he cannot explaine that. He added that on the 23rd of April, 2015 Sanna Jarju received the sum of $900,000 and $300,000 respectively, all of which were from the Special Project Vision 2016 account.
The witness finally testified that on the 4th and 7th of May 2015, Mr. Jarju received payments of $100,000 and $250,000 respectively.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jawara is expected to continue his testimony today.