Monday, April 12, 2021

AT THE JANNEH COMMISSION: Commission Counsel Bensouda Continues Marathon Address

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By Momodou Dem

Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda, yesterday November 27th 2018, continued her marathon address before the ‘Janneh’ Commission. Commission Counsel Bensouda intimated that the executive has no power to interfere in public enterprise’s investments.
In her address, Bensouda referred the Commission to the 50% mark-up on Global Trading Group (GTG); that GTG was required to pay Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to NAWEC. She submitted that GTG failed to build the storage tank as agreed and the premium was reduced to 3%; that Muhammed Bazzi, the proprietor of GTG, who had the responsibility of managing NAWEC, was aware of the 3% mark-up and that GTG had not produced any evidence to show that they had a contract with NAWEC.
According to her, Abdoulie Jobe, former Managing Director of NAWEC, informed the Commission about the IPP, and that there was a license and an agreement with PURA. She said during the process, NAWEC wrote to the office of the former president, noting that one could infer that the management of NAWEC, subdued under duress.
She said the generators were second-hand machines and the price at which they were bought, were too exhorbitant which she said, was confirmed by Fadi Mazegi; that GTG charged NAWEC $720,000 per month while the energy charge was 41.1 cent per hour.
Commission Counsel Bensouda argued that Abdoulie Jobe sent a letter to the office of the former president indicating the capacity charge; that GTG had to provide the demonstrated capacity which was not done.
She further submitted that $12,000,000 was spent on HFO, while the total investment was to the tune of $17.5m; that there was a directive from the Ministry of Energy that NAWEC should stop the investment with GTG, and that no further capacity charge should be made. Bensouda argued that GTG submitted a proposal to hand over the facility to NAWEC and NAWEC could have had a better contract with SSHFC, than that of the GTG. She alleged that there was no evidence that GTG was compelled to hand over the Power Plant to NAWEC, as earlier alluded to by Bazziz’s attorney, Victoria Andrews. She went on to say that an outstanding capacity charge was $8,000,000 with a total of over $9,000,000, noting that GTG was able to secure the agreement; that a document dated 6th March 2010, indicated that GTG paid $1,000,000 into the account of the former president as well as $500,000.
According to her, the mark-up was not justified for NAWEC to pay as charged by GTG, because the generators were old. She wondered how could the office of the former president order NAWEC to sign a contract with GTG, and that NAWEC was paying 61% from its revenue to GTG.
On the letter written by Muhammed Bazzi to the former president regarding the tariff, it was stated that he and his Company were responsible for the operations of NAWEC. She went on to say that Bazzi said the former president wrote to him in response to his letter, that he was humiliated, and that the exclusivity was guaranteed by GTG.
She submitted that GTG paid $500,000 into the account of Kanilai Group International (KGI), and it was the language of Bazzi that GNPC was an exporter and a retailer. However, she said there was no evidence to show that Bazzi and his team were arrested and detained at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
She further stated that they could not understand why the former Government should hand over NAWEC to GTG, noting that Messrs Mamburay Njie, and Momodou B. Jallow, testified that they were invited to a meeting to discuss the contract between NAWEC and GTG.
Bensouda submitted that it was amazing that Bazzi did not know what conflict of interest was, noting that the agreement did not say that GTG was just an adviser. She argued that Alagie Conteh accused Bazzi of inflating the tender on the contract to provide electricity, and that there was evidence that the price was inflated as Conteh testified.
On the extension of the exclusivity license for the importation of fuel by Euro Africa Group, Bensouda revealed that it was extended on the 10th of August 2010; that Mazegi said payment had been made by SSHFC and the sum of $3,300,000 was transferred from SSHFC’s account.
Commission Counsel Bensouda further stated that Bazzi said there was a directive from the office of the former president for SSHFC to purchase generators on behalf of NAWEC, and the said generators were not delivered until March, 2018. She said GTG did not pay any guaranty and the generators were not installed because GTG needed €1.8m; that the contract should have been completed within eight months.
She submitted that the project expiry date was extended several times, further submitting that there was no single matter as submitted by counsel Andrews, that GTG had genuine contracts with NAWEC.
On Gam Petroleum, Bensouda submitted that Amadou Samba told the Commission that he was not involved in the daily transactions of the Company, and that Bazzi said there was a major investment to build the Gam petroleum depot.
According to her, there was nothing in the file to show that MA Kharafi was interested in the construction of the storage facility; that the contract was done at the request of the former president, and there was no agreement signed; that it was not clear who the shareholders were and how much they held. She said the executive has no power to interfere or direct any public enterprise to invest in such enterprises; that there was no evidence to show that there was reluctance to sell shares in the Company.
Bensouda submitted that Gam petroleum was controlling the depot and management of the Company; that dividend could not be paid and expenditure was deflated. She said the audit report by DT Associates reveal that Gam petroleum did not produce documents of their expenditures.
According to her, the sum of $24,000,000 worth of fuel belonging to TOSTA, was supplied to Gam petroleum by GNPC, and this was based on the fact that there was an emergency.
On the Mandinary land where the depot is situated, she said the former Government did not own the said land and could not compulsorily take a land and give it to Gam Petroleum; that all what they promised to the villagers of Mandinary was not honoured. She however said the land was valued at D6.8m but the proprietors were only given D1,000,000 as compensation.
Bensouda further addressed the Commission on the ownership of the “Daily Observer” Newspaper.
Sittings continue on Thursday November 29th 2018.

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