‘CBG Loan to GNPC Was for Data Acquisition & Not Fuel Importation’ Former MD GNPC

By Mamadou Dem

Mr Abdoulie Cham, Director Geology Department

Mr. Momodou O.S Badjie, former Managing Director at the Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), yesterday testified that the five –million- dollars loan from the Bankers bank to GNPC, was meant for the purchase of Data and not importation of fuel. Mr. Badjie made this revelation when he reappeared for the second time before the Janneh Commission of Enquiry, set up to probe into the financial dealings and assets of former president Yahya Jammeh, family members and close associates.

Mr. Ebrima Sallah, Managing Director of Trust Bank Gambia Limited and Abdoulie Cham, Director of the Geology Department, yesterday reappeared before the Janneh Commission. Mr. Sallah testified that the last time he appeared before the Commission, his attention was brought to a particular account. He said the account was signed by Mr. Mamburay Njie, Siaka Camara and Teneng M Jaiteh.

At that juncture, Counsel Bensouda applied to tender the account information relating to the Trust Bank dollar account bearing account number 12010747401. The withdrawal of $400,000.00 on the 13th January 2006 Sallah said, was an authority from the signatories for payment to be effected to TAF Holding Company’s Trust Bank account; that on the 29th of September 2006, there was a transfer of $1,700,000 from GNPC’s account and credited to the Jammeh Foundation for Peace (JFP) and Kanilai Family Farm (KFF) respectively. He said out of the 1.7 Million Dollars, $1,280, 238.13 were disbursed to JFP while the sum of $419,000.84 was paid to KFF; that on the 26th of October 2006, the sum of $1, 100,000 was also debited from the GNPC account to the Management of the President’s Empowerment for Girls Education Project (PEGEP) with the promise that the amount will be refunded.

According to the witness, on the 7th of November 2006, the sum of $2,500,000 was withdrawn while on the 21st of November 2007, the sum of $744,469.14 was withdrawn and transferred to the local currency account, which he said was done under authority.

Counsel Bensouda then applied to tender the transactions documents relating to this account as exhibits.

Mr. Nuha Touray, former Secretary to Cabinet who reappeared before the Commission for the third time, recollected that Skye Bank couldn’t assemble the sum of $2,000,000 which was requested by the signatories to the account, Sabally and ex- President Jammeh; that Jammeh threatens to close the accountant if they fail to produce the sum requested. However, he said he did not know the purpose of the money.

Mr. Momodou O.S Badjie, former Managing Director of GNPC testifying for the second time, said $5,000,000 was withdrawn from GNPC account for the construction of AU Villas which occurred prior to his appointment as MD. He said 18 Villas were handed over to Government while 4 were for GNPC; that there was no document to show that indeed the said villas were handed over to government while the other 30 villas were sold in the sum of $110,000 each.

According to him, GNPC recovered $3,800,000 while the outstanding balance was $1,200,000; that the outstanding sums were written off, based on approval by the board of Directors. At that point Commission Counsel applied to tender documents prepared by the witness regarding payments and outstanding balance owed to the Corporation.

The former Director of GNPC further disclosed that the money paid to JFP and KFF, were made prior to his appointments as MD and he even pursued to know how those payments were made but they were later written off based on the recommendation he made to the board. He further explained how the funds were spent on the Aircraft and according to him, the total amount spent was $54,783.00 and €122,322 was paid to Fly Mach, Spain. He added that from the transactions it seems that it was a chartered flight.

With regards to electrification of the AU Villa, the witness informed Commissioners that Daba Nani had a contract for the electrification of AU Villa Street lights and the money was paid from GNPC funds.

According to him, the sum of $1,595,952 is the outstanding sums PEGEP owed to GNPC. Mr. Badjie testified that looking at the situation at the time, the debt owed to the Company could not be recovered and there was no choice but to write off the debts; that when he came, he found that the former director wrote for the recovery of the money but there was no respond.

Mr. Badjie further testified that when when he was initially appointed as MD, there was no interference with the affairs of GNPC but later in 2013, the interference started when he wrote to the office of the former president soliciting for some of their revenues to be treated as grants; that the former Government did not give them subvention and all the revenue of the Company (now Corporation) was funds of GNPC. He however acknowledged the sum of $5,000,000.00, given to them by the Central Bank for Data Acquisition and not for fuel importation.

Mr. Badjie acknowledges that CBG is still entitled to pursue the loan given to GNPC but he has not seen any document concerning this; that GNPC was a profitable Institution.

Mr. Madun Sanyang, Director of Finance at the GNPC disclosed that he is under interdiction but prior to that, he was dismissed and in the dismissal letter, there was nothing explaining why his services were terminated; that he later came to know that it was alleged that some products were paid for and were never supplied. He added that investigations into the matter proved otherwise.

According to him, the sum of $150,000.00 withdrawn by him, was an instruction from his Managing Director through the Office of the former President. He said the amount was withdrawn and he went together with his Director to State House to deliver the money which, he said, was handed over to Momodou Sabally, former Secretary General.

When asked whether there was anything to show that the said sum was received by Sabally, he responded in the affirmative and added that Mr. Sabally signed a voucher confirming receipt of the said sum. However, he said during his arrest, his office was broken into and the document is no were to be found. At that juncture, Counsel urged Mr. Sanyang to avail the commission with his interdiction letter.

Next to testify was Mr. Abdoulie Cham, Director of the Geology Department. Mr. Cham informed the Commission that he is not aware of any training agreement between APAM and a Chinese Company; that he can recall a meeting regarding the rehabilitation of the Gunjur Seaside and coastal areas which was under erosion and as promise by Mr. Ghattas, a letter was written to their department for the proposal to carry out the rehabilitation because his company has both the manpower and resources; but that nothing was done in terms of rehabilitating the said site. He added that Mr. Ghattas expressed interest in dredging sand from the seaside but the geology department urged him to come with a detail project proposal to be shared with their stakeholders. At that juncture, Mr. Cham confirmed a letter which was tendered by Tony Ghattas to the Commission.

Concerning APAM’s mining of sand from the seaside, Mr. Cham explained that APAM was required to get another license to allow them mine sand from the sea bed; that he is not aware of Mr. Ghattas’ mining from the sea bed; that the outstanding royalties on sand amounted to D13, 285,813. He said there were some trucks excavating sand without passing through the geology department recording it. He confirmed to Counsel that there is no Heavy Mineral Concentrate mining going on at the moment. At that juncture, Counsel applied for a site visit to this coastal side which has been depleted and has not been rehabilitated. Senior Counsel and commission Chairman Janneh, promised to look into this. Commission sessions continue on Monday, 18thSeptember, 2017.