SSHFC Finance Director Reappears at the ‘Janneh’ Commission

By Mamadou Dem

Mr. Abdoulie Cham, Finance Director at the Social Security Housing and Finance Corporation (SSHFC), yesterday reappeared before the ‘Janneh’ Commission of Enquiry, to explain the outstanding loans owed by NAWEC and other projects, funded by the Corporation.

According to Mr. Cham, the office of the former President on the 28th of October 2010, instructed SSHFC to finance two generators that were installed at the Brikama Power Plant, amounting to €1, 840, 600.00, equivalent to D74, 517, 000.00; that prior to the disbursement of these monies, they entered into an agreement with Global Trading Group (GTG) in respect to the purchase and installation of the said generators; that the former Managing Director of the Corporation, Edward Graham, signed the agreement on behalf of SSHFC while one Mahad signed on behalf of GTG.

Mr. Cham however testified that SSHFC did not have any agreement with NAWEC regarding the loan, but there were additional documents appended with NAWEC, regarding this particular project.

The loan agreement between SSHFC and Global Trading amounting to €1, 840, 600.00 and related documents were admitted as exhibits. The witness added that he did not know whether there was a board resolution with regard the loan, neither did he know how the contract was awarded to GTG.

The finance officer also informed Commissioners that a previous loan was given to NAWEC in respect of buying generators amounting to D180 Million and there was an agreement to that effect. He said this particular loan was offset after the Corporation signed an agreement with NAWEC and promised to furnish the Commission with documents relating to the loan.

At that point, Mr. Cham solicited permission from the Commission to dwell on some of the investments made by SSHFC, which was granted, and he said they have shares at the Standard Chartered Bank, CFAO, GNPC among others. He said the total equity investment by the Corporation is D1.89 Billion dalasi, out of which D310 Million is classified as non-government investment, while they hold 31% investment in GNPC, which amounts to D377 Million.

On none performing investments, he said the two ferries, Aljamdou and Kansala, were part of a joint venture between the Government of the Gambia and a Greek Company called Gallie Holding Limited; that SSHFC was asked by the then OP to deposit 20% which amounted to €350,000.00 and Government has 45% share while Gallie Company has 55%; that the money was paid as directed by the office of the then president.

According to him, in accounting terms this joint venture would not be classified as investment because there was no share certificate as that of GNPC, where a share certificate obtains. The venture agreement signed by Hali Abdoulie Gaye and witnessed by Pa Harry Jammeh and related documents for the acquisition of the ferries, were admitted as exhibits.

The witness further revealed that the total contributions to the joint venture was €1, 750, 000.00 out of which €350,000.00 was deposited into an account in Greece and documents showing a telex transfer, were also admitted. He said on the 30th March 2011, another executive directive emanated from the office of the former president addressed to the managing director SSHFC, for the Corporation to finance the construction of slipways amounting to €900, 975.00 which he said was also deposited in the same account in Greece.

Acquisition of ferries and the building of slipways by the Gallie Company and related documents, were admitted and marked accordingly as exhibits.

According to the witness, with regard to the joint venture, there was 45% for both SSHFC and GPA, while 10% was for Ministry of Finance; but that the Ministry later backed out on grounds that they do not have funds. He said the current status of the joint venture is that Gallie Company is involved in arbitrations between Gambia Government and the Company and the Ministry of Justice is aware of that development.

The next investment was the Gambia Animal Feed Project which was a directive from the office of the then president, after the visit of Qatari investors; that the Corporation was asked to contribute 65% which was equivalent to $7,000,000.00, out of which $4,550,000.00 was paid and the payment was effected after the board’s resolution. According to him, the Corporation initially did not find the said investment until it seized operation.

Mr. Cham said he did not know the name of the Qatari investors or Company but suggested that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) might be in a better position to know since the Ministry was involved in the arbitration because they have met people in the country. He said he knew nothing about investments in a company called Conarpro, because the Corporation only acted on the directives they received from the office of the then president. He finally testified that the Company is not operational as of now and there has been no benefit for the Corporation for the investment they made in the Company.

Sittings continue today