By Mamadou Dem
The Executive Director of Augustus Prom Audit Firm and the former Secretary to the Cabinet of the former President Yaya Jammeh, yesterday appeared before the Janneh Commission of Enquiry set up to probe into the financial dealings and assets of former president Yahya Jammeh, families and closed associates.
Mr. Prom gave his full name as Augustus Prom and testified that it was correct that he was appointed as the receiver of Companies of the ex-president; but that the interim report on these assets is not yet published as the work is still in progress. He said APAM is not part of the assets he was assigned to be the receiver. He added that they are working on the liquidation of Carnegie Minerals which is a compulsory liquidation by the order of the court.
According to Mr. Prom there was a previous joint inventory with members from the Sheriff’s Division and Ministry of Justice respectively. “I was appointed on the 6th of August 2015, to the 31st August 2017, as liquidator for Carnegie Minerals. We have done the inventory but did not value the assets as at now,” he said.
Mr. Prom, who was assisted by his son Louise Prom, who disclosed to the Commission that he has the inventory report on the liquidation of Carnegie Minerals alongside the appendixes which were tendered and admitted by the Commission as exhibits. On whether Carnegie Minerals was valuated, the witness disclosed that an evaluation was made by the Sheriff’s Division through one Ebrima Njie, which amounted to over 22, 013,000.00 dalasi. He said by the time of the inventory, the stockpile that was left, was left by GAMICO and the stockpile of Carnegie Minerals, was taken by GAMICO. At that juncture, Counsel to the Commission, Amie Bensouda, applied to tender Volume 1, Report of the Liquidation, Inventory and Appendixes on Carnegie Minerals Company by Augustus Prom Firm, as exhibits.
When asked by Counsel as to when they expect to surrender their report on these companies, the witness said the report is in progress and will be ready in two weeks’ time, including seventeen other companies. Prom junior however intimated to the commission that some of these companies are dormant but others are still operating and their managers are on the ground making their monthly reports, which he said are consolidated. According to him, the liquidation of these companies started before Jammeh left but his appointment as the receiver was when the president went into self-exile. Responding to the Commission Chairman, the witness testified that all the Managing Directors of these companies including Kanilai Family Farm (KFF), were appointed by the Secretary General, based on the directives of the former President.
Continuing his testimony, the Deputy Managing Director of Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) explained to Commissioners that he wasn’t able to trace YDE transaction documents. However, he said the only thing he found was the minutes of meetings by GPA Board of Directors. He promised to furnish the Commission with the documents as soon as they lay their hands on them; that he can remember Government instituting a legal suit against Youth Development Enterprise (YDE) and the documents were submitted in respect of that suit. He said the late Baba Jobe used to go to the Ports to deal on YDE matters.
According to Mr. Jobarteh, in 2007, they received directives from the office of the former president for the payment of air tickets for the visiting delegates of Ms. Black Beauty Pageant USA, and the sum of $305,280 was signed by Dr. Njogu Bah, then Secretary General. The sum of $1800 was paid to one hundred and sixty-two delegates each and the amount was paid based on the information they received in a letter; that the payment was made through a bank transfer to Inter-world Exchange Corporation.
Commission Counsel, Amie Bensouda at that stage applied to tender the letter of directives from the office of the former president, dated 8th May 2007, for the payment of the said sum. He said on the 26th January 2011, they received another directive from the office of the former president for the extension of land belonging to GPA, to the International Milling Corporation; that the land was allocated and physically handed over to the said company who have since constructed on it.
Mr. Jobarteh disclosed that the sum of D18, 464,850.00 was the agreement for the compensation of the land by the said Company but that the company failed to honour the agreement despite several letters to the Managing Director, Muhammed Bazi. He said he has no idea why the company was not sued for breach of agreement despite the several letters that were written to the company for compensation.
At that juncture, he pulled out the letter of directives from the office of the former president regarding the handing over of the land to the International Milling Corporation which was also applied and admitted as exhibit. When asked whether the land handed over to the said company was within the industrial zone, he responded in the negative adding that it was in the Ports area.
In March 2009, Kanilai Family Farm had a Ship loaded with over ten thousand Metric tons of cement and 50% duty waiver was accorded by the GPA management and the outstanding balance that the KFF owed to GPA on this consignment is D1,523,589.50 whilst the second consignment was in October 2012 and the outstanding balance for that is D5,296,454.64. Duty waivers were granted to each of these consignments and the stand of GPA is KFF should pay these amounts owed to the Ports, he added. He said the duty waivers are based on tariff and is purely a commercial transaction and it’s not within the mandate of the board.
Meanwhile, Jobarteh is expected to reappear before the Commission with answers on whether the outstanding sums owed by KFF were captured by the financial department of GPA.
Earlier Mr. Pateh Jah reappeared and testified that he was in a position to produce the Public Service Regulation, General Orders (GO’s) Civil Servants Code of Conduct, Financial Instructions (FI’s) and Training Policy which were all admitted and marked accordingly.
According to him, the training policy doesn’t cover training outside the civil service; that if a none member of the civil service applies for training, they referred him to the Ministry of Higher Education. “What is the policy for training people outside the jurisdiction?” quizzed counsel. The witness responded that the then government after a study, realized that training civil servants outside the jurisdiction involved huge sums of money, prompting them to train others internally through the UTG and MDI respectively.
Amie Bensouda asked, “Do you deal with open scholarships?” “No. Only the Ministry of Higher Education as well as bilateral scholarships,” replied the witness.
Counsel Bensouda urged Mr. Jah to investigate and come up with a list of all civil servants who were sponsored from public funds by the office of the then President.
Next to testify was Mr. Nuha Touray, the then Secretary to Cabinet and now Assistant to the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission Secretariat in Abuja, Edward Singhatey. He said his current position is a renewable two- year contract. “I was appointed in February 2017,” said the witness. Mr. Touray gave synopsis of his appointments back in 1988 up to his current portfolio at ECOWAS. He recalled that he was tried by the former regime for allegedly destroying a file that could be used against the petroleum officials who were charged with numerous offences including Economic Crimes which charges were later dropped and was reinstated by the current regime.
Among his responsibilities he said, was to attend meetings and take notes which he later developed into minutes of meetings and also to represent the Secretary General in meetings. On the signatory to accounts, he said that was decided by the President. “We did not have a choice to be signatories to accounts but we had to sign and ordinarily I should not be a signatory to accounts,” Touray said.
When asked to reveal the close associates of Jammeh, Mr. Touray responded he preferred to list them down than say them verbally due to the nature of the environment. However Bensouda insisted that there is no confidentially in revealing the names of Jammeh’s associates but when asked about the civilian associates, he then mentioned names like Mr. Muhammed Bazzi, Nicolae Euzainu, Mr. Tony Ghattas, Tibou Camara, President’s brother in-law and Amadou Samba.
Mr. Touray further testified that he did not know Fadia George Magazi, Managing Director Euro Africa Group. He said Mr. Muhammed Bazzi was the proprietor of Euro Africa Group while Nicolae was the then Gambian Ambassador to France and also the Proprietor of Ocean Bay Hotel. He however noted that he has no knowledge whether Tibou had any business interest in The Gambia. Counsel Bensouda at that juncture applied to tender a confidential letter from Muhammed Bazzi to former President Jammeh dated 10th August 2012. The letter is with respect to Mr. Bazzi’s interest in doing business in the Gambia.
Mr. Touray said he knew that the then President used to do business through Kanilai Group International (KGI), Kanilai Family Farm (KFF) and Garage, Green Industries and Kanilai Bakery. He added that he was aware of assets belonging to the former President including Doune Hotel which was bought from the funds of the GNPC account at Sky Bank and GT Bank respectively and payments were effected to one David Paul. Mr. Touray then tendered one of the documents to the Commission to back up his evidence.
According to him, the Military Circle transacted the businesses of the former president and he also did official transactions through the Secretary General adding that he is aware of the International Gateway Account, which proceeds went to the Central Bank Account. “I heard the president say that account should be opened at Central Bank but I don’t have the minutes of this,” he recollected.
Counsel applied to tender a letter dated 8th October 2013, from the office of the President to the Governor of Central Bank, signed by Momodou Sabally and Touray for the withdrawal of funds.
Mr. Touray finally testified that Mr. Momodou Batata Juwara was the chief of Protocol at the time but did not know whether he was the person who received the money. Kalilu Bayo’s letter of refusal to become signatory to accounts under the directive of the former president, was tendered and marked as exhibit as well as a document from the then President directing all Secretary Generals to become signatories to the accounts.
He finally testified that members from the State Guards were responsible of Ram Sales at the office of the then President.