“Payments/withdrawals without authority regarded as unauthorized by Jammeh”

By Mamadou Dem

Karamo Jawara

Mr. Karamo Juwara, Principal Banking Officer at the Central Bank of The Gambia, yesterday continued with his testimony by informing the Janneh Commission, that in his opinion, withdrawals that were made without authority from the account holder or signatory, will not be regarded as Jammeh’s authorizations. This is the Commission set up by the government of the Gambia to probe into the financial dealings and assets of former president Jammeh and his associates.

Mr Jawara who came with a bunch of documents showing transactions from the Special Project Fund and Vision 2016 Accounts, recalled that on 19th May 2015, the sum of $500,000.00 was received by Sanna Jarju under the authority of Yahya Jammeh, who was the sole signatory to the said account; that on 25th May 2015, the sum of D10,000,000.00 was paid but there was no document showing the authority. But that it was the director of finance who effected the payment.

The next transaction he went on, was on 1st June 2015, when the sum of $129,600.00 was paid to SOVGE Co Ltd, a bank in China which was signed by the former President whilst on the 3rd and 4th of June 2015, the sum of $300,000.00 was paid to Sanna Jarju and on the 8th of June 2015, another sum of $300,000.00 was paid to Sanna Jarju, again under the directives of Jammeh.

Mr. Juwara further revealed that on 10th June 2015, $54, 600.00 was signed by Jammeh for the payment of 20 Doctors and Nurses which was received by Sanna Jarju.

On 17th June 2015, he said the sum of $215,000.00 was authorized by Jammeh to be paid to Sanna Jarju, former Chief Protocol, Office of the President whilst on the 18th of the same month and year, $400,000.00 was authorised by Jammeh, to be paid to Mr. Jarju; that on the 29thof the same month and year, the sum of $75,000.00 was signed by Moses Mendy, for payment to the Jammeh Foundation (JFP) which was authorized by President Jammeh.

The next transaction according to him was on 7thJuly 2015, in the sum of $100,000.00 signed by Jammeh and received by Sanna Jarju, whilst on the 20th of July 2015, another sum of $252,334.00 was transferred to the Special Deposit Account authorized by exiled former president.

The Central Bank Official further testified that on 17th August 2015, $250,000.00 was paid to Sanna Jarju, but that the instruction wasn’t received from the signatory and on the same date and year, another payment of $400,000.00 was paid to Sanna Jarju but that there was no instruction from the signatory and the payment was approved by the governor; that there was an overdraft in the said account at the time.

At that juncture Mr. Juwara intimated to the Commission that in his opinion the payments or withdrawals that were made without authority from the signatory (Jammeh), will be regarded as not authorized by Jammeh, who was the sole signatory to the account; that on the 25th of May 2015, the sum $250,000.00 was paid to General Sulayman Badjie whilst on the 31st of August 2015, there was a withdrawal of D10,000,000.00 for the purchase of tents for state house without authority.

“On the 16th of September 2015, the sum of $400,000.00 was withdrawn after an internal Memo was signed by General Badjie and payment was approved by the Governor but there was no instruction from the signatory of the account. On the 16th of the same month and year, $252,652.85 was signed by General Badjie but no authority was attached. Another transaction on the same day amounting to $800,000 was authorized by General Badjie, Office of the President. On the 26th October 2015, $100,000.00 and $500,000.00 was signed by General Badjie but there was no authority from the signatory to the account,” Mr. Juwara explained, noting that the bank has an Internal Audit Department but that he was not aware of the Internal Audit Compliance Department.

The next transaction he said, was on 26thOctober 2015, in the sum of $500,000.00 which was signed by General Badjie but there was no authority from the signatory to the account. He added that on the 20th of October 2015, $200,000.00 and $300,000.00 was paid to General Badjie and there was no authority from the signatory to the account; that on the 29th of October 2015, $100,000.00 was signed by Jammeh for monthly payments to the Jammeh Foundation and PEGEP, through a Trust Bank Account, commencing October, 2015.

Another payment of $500,000.00 was paid to Sanna Jarju on the 30th of October 2015; that on the 30th October 2015, the sum of $500,000.00 was signed by the former president and received by Sanna Jarju.

On the 19th of November 2015, Mr Juwara further revealed that the sum of $290,000.00 was paid to the Gambian Embassy in the USA and was signed by the former president for the purchase of 42 International School buses, whilst on the 25thof November 2015, $400,000.00 cash payment was made to the office of the president but there was no authority; that on the 3rd of December 2015, another payment of $200,000.00 and $100,000.00 was received by Lieutenant Buba Jammeh respectively.

 

He said on the 30th October 2015, the sum of $108,952.19 was received by Mr. Borry LBS Colley and the finance director and his deputy gave authority for the said sum to be disbursed to Colley. On the 30th of the same month, there was a cash payment to Lieutenant Buba Jammeh, amounting to $150,000.00 whilst on the 2nd of November 2015, General Badjie received payments of $500,000.00 without a request being signed from the former president and there was no signature from the bank as well. He added that Michel Barrai was the deputy director at the time.

A further transaction on the 3rd November 2015, amounting to $258,000.00 without payment instructions equivalent to D10, 000,000.00 was made and on the 10th of November 2015, there was a request of $529,567.00 which was also signed by General Sulayman Badjie; that it was the Deputy Governor that authorized payments to be effected.  He said on the 10th of November 2015, Lieutenant General Modou Lamin Mendy, Office of the President, received the sum of $100,000.00 but there was no letter head justifying that the instructions were indeed from the account holder.

On the 18th of November 2015, Gen. Sulayman Badjie signed a request of $532, 039.00 and was authorized by the 1st Deputy Governor; that the sum of $3,945,000.00 was also received by Sulayman Badjie. Transactions documents on the 3rd of December 2015, couldn’t be traced according to the witness but there was a cash payment of $200,000.00 received by Lt. Buba Jammeh. There were additional payments to Lt. Jammeh amounting to $100,000.00 and that on the 3rd of December 2015, a request of $529,901.00 was signed by Gen. Sulayman Badjie, authorized by both 1st and 2nd deputy Governors of the Central Bank.

The witness testified that Nuha Williams and MS Jammeh, on the 24th of March and on the 1st and 2nd of April 2016, after being authorized by the deputy Governor, received the sum of $216,071.20. Mr. Antoumana Tamba, office of the president is also alleged to have received the sum of $346,900.99 on the 6th of June 2016.

Mr. Juwara finally testified that on the 23rd of January 2017, Nuha Wiliams and MS Jammeh requested the payments of $99,122.81 leaving a balance of $22,623.00 in the account. However, the witness testified that they will endeavour to produce documents that were not attached on some of the transactions. At that point, Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda, applied to tender the transaction documents on the said account which were accordingly admitted and marked as exhibits.

Meanwhile business mogul, Tony Ghattas, continued with his evidence and was cross-examined by his lawyer Sheriff Tambadou and contract documents between APAM and China for building of dredges in Sanyang and related areas, were tendered to the Commission.

According to Ghattas, the contract was over $8,000,000.00 and APAM made a payment of $290,000.00 in respect of the dredges. Contract document dated 7th September 2016, and a letter from the Geology Department for rehabilitation from Banjul to Senegambia, were exhibited.

Mr Ghattas when asked by Commission Chairman and Senior Counsel Sourahata Janneh, regarding his stay in the country, said he came to The Gambia to look for investment.  “How many dollars did you come with into The Gambia?” Commission Chairman Janneh enquired. “I came with less than $50,000 and I have been in The Gambia for 17 years,” Mr Ghattas responded. See our subsequent edition for more cross-examination by Ghattas’ attorney, Sheriff Tambadou and Commission Chairman respectively.