Monday, February 17, 2020

‘Total Debt For Westwood Company Over D273M’ Louise Prom


By Mamadou Dem

Mr. Louise Prom, yesterday reappeared before the ‘Janneh’ Commission in connection with Westwood Company.

Mr. Prom made his reappearance on Thursday 8th March 2018 and disclosed before Commissioners that the total debt of Westwood owed to Government, is more than D273, 930,000.According to Prom, The Gambia Revenue Authority is claiming the sum of D253, 000,000 from Westwood Company and out of this sum, Westwood paid D70, 000,000 only as tax returns; that Maersk Line Shipping Agency also claims the sum of D11.2 million for their containers used for shipment of the logs whilst GIEPA claims the sum of $5million for the warehouse at the airport.

Earlier, Mrs. Bensouda reminded Mr. Prom, that he was to provide information relating to Westwood Company in connection with payments made to the former president. In response, Mr. Prom said he had the information. He told the Commission that they had given officials of BPI Tourism and Services, access to the records of Westwood Company for the exportation of timber.

At this juncture, he gave the summary of the timber exported by the company from the years 2014 to 2017 and the total containers of timber exported, was 13,028, valued at $39,084,000.

Prom also provided the loan agreement between Westwood Company and its other agencies, further testifying that the sum of a $5million loan was in respect of Ocean Bay Hotel, while the sum of a $2million loan was in respect of Sun Beach Hotel; that there was another loan of $500,000 in respect of the Mineral Company which had a 3 year grace period without interest.

According to him, the sum of over D38, 000,000 was outstanding while the sum of D62, 933,406 was in relation to Sun Beach Hotel; that the sum of $7,810,115 was disbursed to Kanilai Family Farms as an advance dividend by Westwood Company from the years 2015 to 2016.

Mr. Prom further told the Commission that he had the tenancy agreement between BPI Tourism and Services Limited, and Westwood Company and $40,000 was the annual payment agreement.

At this juncture, a summary of the containers exported and other related documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

Earlier, the Managing Director of Trust Bank Mr. Ebrima Sallah, reappeared in connection with the deduction of funds from various accounts relating to the former president and Jammeh Foundation for Peace, among others.

Mr. Sallah, while testifying, confirmed the deduction of over $100,000 transferred to various accounts; that the former president was a signatory to all the accounts where funds were deducted and transferred.

He however told Commissioners that he had not seen the facility letter indicating the terms and conditions of the loan regarding the Jammeh Foundation for Peace accounts; that no correspondence was shown to him and concluded that the document was not at their office.

According to him, the former president was the one managing the said accounts and also gave instructions for the transaction on the Foundation’s and other related accounts.  “It is unacceptable to give out the loan without a facility letter,” Commissioner Saine told the witness.

At this juncture, Mrs. Bensouda reminded him that the Commission was expecting documents relating to the JFP accounts.

Mr. Anthony Panetta, former Westwood administrator, also reappeared before the Commission and informed that he is the only director of BPI Tourism and Services Limited.

He was summoned in connection with some documents to be submitted to the Commission regarding Westwood and BPI Tourism and Services Limited respectively.

Documents produced by the witness including the Memorandum and Article of Association of BPI Tourism and Services Limited, correspondences between the witness and the Managing Director of BPI, agreement between Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation and BPI, for the management of both Ocean Bay and Sun Beach Hotels, were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

Mrs. Bensouda told him that he was expected to compile dividend payments to BPI which should be submitted to the Commission.

Sittings resumes on the 19th of March 2018.

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