Thursday, March 4, 2021

AT THE ‘JANNEH’ COMMISSION Business Tycoon Forced To Appear

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By Mamadou Dem

Gambia’s business tycoon Alieu Conteh, was yesterday forced to appear before the ‘Janneh’ Commission in relation to the 3 M Account.

Sources close to the Commission revealed that Conteh was arrested last Tuesday night, to enable him appear before the Commission, because he was summoned on numerous occasions and failed to appear. However, before he took his oath, his attorney Victoria Andrews, applied to be heard in chambers.

Commission Chairman Sourahata Janneh, made it clear to her that the grounds of hearing her in chambers, must be known before she would be allowed to make her oral application in secret.

Andrews, then disclosed that her application to be heard in chambers was based on the medical grounds of her client. “There are confidential medical information,” said Andrews.

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She finally submitted that it was because of this, she applied to be entertained in close doors. Consequently, the application was granted and sittings continued in chambers, where she made an oral application on behalf of Conteh.

Earlier, Prince Ibrahim Sanyang, the Managing Director of Royal Africa Capital Holdings Company, continued on his testimony on the Companies he operated in and outside the Gambia.

Prior to dwelling on the subject matter, he used the occasion to apologise to the Chairman and members of the Commission regarding his last appearance before them. He sought forgiveness from Commissioners provided that there was anything wrong he said during the course of the proceedings.

He told the Commission that he was frustrated but anything wrong that he said was not intentional; that it is not his character to behave in such a way. Chairman Janneh told him that his apology was accepted.

Continuing with his testimony, Prince Sanyang told the Commission that on the 14th of February, 2018, he submitted the state of affairs of the Companies to the Receiver, Augustus Prom; that he has the certificate of Africa Brokerage Insurance Company, noting that he also submitted letters to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Attorney and Solicitor Generals, Ministry of Justice, Registrar General as well as the Registrar of Companies.

He however revealed to the Commission that after he invested at the Central Bank of The Gambia, he was asked to withdraw the sum of D10,000,000 from the account, based on executive directives; that he made a statement to the Police and told them he will pursue justice and get back his money.

According to Prince Sanyang, he was not allowed to leave the Major Crime Unit of the Police Headquarters but refuted the executive directive; that he was under duress.

At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda asked her if he was not at the Police Headquarters in relation to Asset Management and Recovery Corporation (AMRC) issues. In his response, Prince Sanyang said he made it clear to the investigators that AMRC owed him $14,000,000 after he signed an agreement with them which he claimed they did not honour; that he gave them 25 metric tons of cement which payment is still pending.

Prince Sanyang testified that he did not sign a loan agreement with the AMRC. He however said AMRC wrote him a letter while he was in detention, explaining that he owed the Company, which he denied; that his call related to the supply of commodities to AMRC; that he was not aware that the property he claimed to own, was in the name of Ansumana Jammeh, neither did he know that the state took action against him, in relation to the property.

At this juncture, Commissioner Saine asked him the source of the money he invested in the country. In response, he told the Commission that he brought the monies from abroad.

On whether he was aware that Ansumana Jammeh was arrested and remanded in custody, he responded in the affirmative.

According to Prince, his cars were impounded by the then NIA for a period of time; that there was also an executive order to arrest all the occupants in one of his Companies.

Prince Sanyang further testified that he did not make any claim against Ansumana Jammeh on the basis that he entrusted him with his properties, hoping that they will be in safe hands; but that it was a bad experience; that he wrote to Mr. Prom to allow them continue with their businesses, but that this was not possible. He said the allegation made by the receiver (Mr. Prom) that he did not find employees at his Company when he visited the place on the 7th of June 2017, was unfounded.

He refuted allegations made by the Receiver that he could not produce staff contracts; that his office was furnished with computers and files attached. He then appealed to the Commission to pay a visit to the Company. Prince Sanyang disclosed that he filed a case challenging the freezing order made against him but the matter is still pending in Court.

At this juncture, the letters he wrote to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Solicitor General, the Inspector General of Police among others, were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

Prince Sanyang disclosed that his wife left the country and refused to come back. He however confirmed that Ansumana Jammeh was his childhood friend and he has been helping him whenever the need arose; that Ansumana’s wife is a niece; but that there was no advantage for him being a shareholder in his Company, despite being a brother to the former president an and Ambassador.

He finally refuted the claim that he was a close associate of former president Jammeh, claiming that he has no association with Jammeh at all.

Sittings continue today.

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