By Yankuba Jallow
Amie Bensouda, the lead counsel for the Janneh Commission of Inquiry has on Thursday the 22nd November, 2018 addressed the Commissioners on issues raised during the sittings of the Commission.
This Commission fondly called the Janneh Commission was established by President Adama Barrow to probe into the financial dealings of the ex-president of the Gambia, Alhajie Yahya AJJ Jammeh who is currently in exile, in Equatorial Guinea, and his close associates.
In her address, the senior lawyer said the evidence before the Commission shows that licences were issued in The Gambia for mining. She said the first license was given to Carnergie Mining Company but was later terminated by the ex-president.
“The ex-president was interested in knowing the amount of money generated by the Carnergie Company and this was what led to him terminating the licence,” she said.
She adduced that Muhammed Bazzi was interested in seeing that the ex-president terminates the Carnergie Licence.
“The evidence suggested that Bazzi was interested to see to it that the Carnergie Licence was terminated and he influenced the ex-president because of his interest,” she said.
Counsel Bensouda stated that the standard of proof at the Janneh Commission is based on ‘balance of probability’. She said it is more likely than not that Muhammed Bazzi has knowledge of the existence of a contract between the Gambia government and Carnergie. She said the government of the Gambia has suffered damages as a result of the termination of the Carnergie License. She said extensive and substantial sum of money were awarded against the Gambia government by the arbitration panel.
She quantified that the damages suffered by the government of The Gambia included a liability of 993,668 dollars owed to Carnergie, 2 million dollars for cost of arbitration, among others. She said the ex-president without respecting the term of the contract terminated the contract with Carnergie.
“As far as the arbitration panel is concerned, the arbitration panel found out that the GAMICO company where Muhammed Bazzi is a shareholder, has taken over the equipment belonging to Carnergie without court order or ruling,” she adduced.
She said the Janneh Commission has visited the mining areas and that they have seen the damages caused to those areas.
“There is no doubt that the damages at those sites were as a result of the mining activities,” she said.
On the issue of APAM which is also a mining Company, Bensouda said the ex-president signed a licence to give APAM a mining licence.
“APAM was not registered to run any form of business. APAM was carrying out illegal activities,” she said.
The learned senior lawyer, in her recommendation said the Commission should look into the dealings of the Guaranty Trust Bank and First International Bank who had opened both dollar and dalasi accounts for APAM.
“APAM hold both dollar and dalasi accounts at the Guaranty Trust Bank and FIBank. APAM did not submit to these banks any article or memorandum of association. For two (2) years, the Guaranty Trust Bank has allowed APAM to run its accounts. It is a general practice for companies to submit their documents although it is not incorporated into the Banking Act, that a company should submit its documents of incorporation before opening account,” she said.
Bensouda said Tony Gathas is a close associate of the ex-president of the Gambia, Alhajie Yahya AJJ Jammeh.
About The Kairaba Beach Hotel, she said it was purchased by The Gambia government money from the Central Bank of the Gambia.
“The Kairaba was purchased from the funds of the Central Bank of The Gambia,” she said.
She said Baba Jobe in the year 2001 instructed the Central Bank of The Gambia to pay the sum to West Coast Company Limited. She said evidence shows that the Company belonged to Baba Jobe and Lang Conteh. She added the duo owners transferred the ownership to the Millennium Company Limited.
“Kairaba Beach Hotel was owned by the Millennium Company and Millennium was owned by the ex-president. MA Kharafi purchased The Kairaba from the Millennium Company,” she said.
She said MA Kharafi paid 10 million dalasis for the purchase of The Kairaba. She added that for 14 years, the MA Kharafi run the Hotel without accounting to the true owners which was the government of the Gambia.
She said there is no sufficient evidence that the Millennium purchased The Kairaba by its own fund.
“The Millennium acted fraudulently because it used the State fund to purchase The Kairaba fraudulently,” she submitted.
Moreover, she said the then AFPRC government signed 35 million dollar loan with Taiwan. She said it was signed by the then minister of finance, Bala Jahumpa. She said out of the $35 million, $3 million was paid into a special account in New York, United States of America.
About the Sindola Safari Lodge, Lawyer Bensouda said it was built in the years 2002 and 2003.
“Until the year 2004, The Kairaba was running the Sindola Safari Lodge. Sindola was constructed by the Sight Gambia Company whose shares were purchased through State fund,” she said.
On the Gam Bridge Oil Company, Counsel Bensouda rubbished the presumption that it was a valid contract between them and the Gambia government. She said the agreement was signed by Amadou Samba and Muhammed Bazzi but the government of the Gambia has not sign it.
“The government of The Gambia is not in breach of Sight Gambia contract. There was no agreement because it was not signed as intended,” she argued.
She submitted that the Gam Bridge Company should refund the Gambia Government 700,000 dollars which was transferred by the Central Bank of the Gambia. Bensouda said the Guaranty Trust Bank gave 2 million dalasis of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) to the transaction between the Gam Bridge Oil and KGI.
“The Commission should consider whether the Guaranty Trust Bank should refund the said amount to the SSHFC because there was no board resolution. The managing director does not have the authority in law to give such money without a board sanction (resolution). The Corporation lost 7 million dalasis on interest,” she said.
On NAWEC, she said it has a liability of 9.3 billion dalasis.
“75% of the total liabilities remains on the tax payers. Many witnesses have attributed the challenges that NAWEC face to the ex-president for his interference into the activities of the company,” she said.
The matter was adjourned to Tuesday, the 27th November 2018 at 10 am for the continuation of address by Counsel Bensouda.