Thursday, January 27, 2022

‘Kanilai Dormitories Contract Was D9.2 Million’-K Patel


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By Mamadou Dem

The Managing Director of Swami India International Limited, Khimiji Patel, revealed that the cost for the contract of dormitories in Kanilai was D9.2 million.

Mr. Patel said this while appearing before the ‘Janneh’ Commission in connection with the construction of dormitories at the former President’s home village.

According to him, the said contract was funded by Kanilai Family Farms (KFF) but the money was received from business tycoon Amadou Samba; that he had all the payments that went into their account. He however said he could not remember where all the monies came from and that apart from this particular contract, they did not do any other contract in Kanilai.

Mr. Patel informed the Commission that Kanilai International Group (KGI), bought two storey buildings from his Company at Paradise Estate; that the storey buildings at the Paradise Estate are called the Toronto Houses. He confirmed that General Saul Badjie did not buy any houses from him neither did the former First Lady.

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At this juncture, a copy of the sale agreement, a bill of quantities and other relevant documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits. Commission Chairman Sourahata Janneh, asked him whether the Company was registered and he answered in the positive.

Mrs. Bensouda then asked him to produce the certificate of incorporation of the Company. And Commission Chairman Sourahata Janneh was also quick to put it to him that the name on the contract document was Pigil Patel. In response, he said Patel is the name of his tribe.

Mr. Patel was asked to furnish the Commission with the Memorandum and Article of Association, Business Registration Certificate and Tax Clearance of Swami India International Company, respectively.

Next to testify was Mrs. Fatou Mbaye, former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, who told the Commission that the Kanilai Institute of Technology costs the sum of D47, 398,749.75.

Mrs Mbaye was summoned in connection with the Kanilai Institute of Technology which was initiated by the former president.

According to her, the said Institute was initiated by the former president purposely to improve the teaching of Maths, Science and Technology in the country. She however said the name of the Institute was initially changed by the former president.

Mrs Mbaye testified that the former president was invited by Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) and the Institute was to oversee the construction which was awarded to a contractor in 2007; that the contract was signed by GTTI on behalf of the former president, and it was awarded by the former president to one Abdoulie Jaiteh; that she was not privy to the said contract adding that she was not in possession of the bill of quantities and that they could not find any copies at their office, noting that the institute was built in Kanilai.

According to her, the total cost of the contract was D47, 398,749.75. She disclosed that the sum of D37, 189,146 was received from the Taiwanese Embassy in cheques; that this amount was converted to dollars and there was a shortfall of D10, 000,000; that the cheques received went into the GTTI account and the project did not complete because the contract stopped; that the D37, 189,146 did not include the external works. Notwithstanding, they continued paying the salary of the night watchman.

Documents relating to the Institute together with other relevant documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

She finally testified that apart from the extra funding from GTTI, all the funds were from Taiwan; that they wrote several letters to Government requesting for the outstanding balance of the contract to no avail and that they refused to build the auditorium because of the incomplete payments owed to them.

Mr. Augustus Prom Junior and Louise Prom, testified that they did not come across any report that KGI received the Japanese rice grant. After looking at an audit report, he said it was indicated that KGI owed D26, 462,000 to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The contract agreement between KFF and his Company and other relevant documents relating to the contract were admitted in evidence.

Mrs. Fatou Sinyang Mbergan, Sectary General of the Banjul Breweries Limited, was also summoned in connection with Green Industries Company Limited.

Mrs Sinyan Mbergan said Green Industries was engaged in manufacturing clothes among others and that the materials were imported. She said she was not privy to the shareholders of the said Company, noting that she was appointed as the Chairperson of the board of the Company.

According to her, she received a letter from former Secretary General Dr Njogou Bah, that she was appointed by the former president to serve as the board Chairperson in March 2009; that she did not get the Memorandum of Article of Association, noting that she did not know the owner of the said Company but assumed that it was a government Company which was a Limited Liability Company.

Mrs. Mbergan further told the Commission that members of the board of the Company were one Mustapha Colley, Morr Jobe, Madam Jeg Cham and Antony Carvalo and Njogou Bah served as secretary to the board.

She testified that they were not officially informed that the Company was closed and that all the machinery was dismantled, further noting that they were operating from the July 22nd Park at the airport and had an outlet on Kairaba Avenue.

She disclosed that the said office was allocated to them by the former president; that they were not paying rent and they used to receive monies from the office of the former president by transfers into their accounts at Trust Bank.

She said the industry started in 2008 but she came on board in 2009, disclosing that they opened an account and the signatories were herself, Mr. Carvalo and Mustapha Colley; that the activities of the industry were anchored at GEIPA offices.

She further told the Commission that the manager, Mrs Elizabeth Dambel, was asked to hand over to the accountant, Alagie Jaiteh; that they had four members as part of the management and the office of the former president was financing them and the funds were from the said office which opened the account.

According to her, they were sending reports to the office of the former president as to how the funds were spent; that they were not audited but were keeping some minutes of meetings. She said there was some cash at the bank when the Company ceased.

She revealed that the sales of the Company were D2.3 million from uniforms and other contracts, further stating that they were not making payments to the office of the former president.

Mrs. Mbergan finally testified that at the beginning, they had 131 employees which later rose to 140 staff.

Mr. Lamin Camara, Permanent Secretary No. 2 at the Ministry of Finance, was summoned in connection with the Japanese Food Aid. Camara testified that his findings revealed his Ministry played a minimal role in the project and that most of the arrangements were between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture.

According to him, his ministry was not involved in the Taiwanese grants and this was not normal; that resources coming into the country should be well documented. He told the Commission that he was not aware KGI was selling rice from grants given by Japan.

PS Camara however testified that despite the fact that his Ministry was not involved in the said grants, correspondences between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and the Prisons Department, were copied to his Ministry; that it was a challenge for not involving the finance Ministry in the management or implementation of the bilateral grants from Japan and Taiwan respectively.

Camara added that their ministry was more engaged in the multilateral funds given by either the World Bank or IMF among others; that he was in possession of 20 accounts and the balance in these accounts was D260,000,000 and the sum of D120,000,000 came from the Japanese grant.

At this juncture, documents produced by the witness, such as agreements on the food aid and correspondences between the two Ministries and the Prisons department together with a list of the 20 accounts, were admitted in evidence.

The Chief of Protocol, office of the president Alagie Ousman Ceesay, reappeared in connection with the sum of $4,000,000 he received from Trust Bank on behalf of the former president.

Dwelling on this transaction, he confirmed receiving the said sum and testified that the former president instructed him to receive the money which he said was handed over to him. He further confirmed that on the 9th February 2009, he received $2,000,000 from the said bank while on the 24th January 2011, he received an additional sum of $2,000,000, making it a total of $4,000,000.

Dr. Njogu Bah also reappeared and testified that it was correct that monies from Taiwan were used to renovate the former Taiwanese Embassy in Kanifing South, purposely to be used as the APRC political bureau. He also confirmed the disbursement of $1,000,000 to the Central Bank and over $900,000 to T.K Motors relating to the supply of Government vehicles. Mrs. Bensouda put it to him that at the beginning, the former president was trying to pay back some monies but subsequently withdrew.

Sitting continues today.

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