Former CBG Financial Controller Explains How Funds Were Looted

By: Mamadou Dem

Mr. Abdoulai Cham Former Financial Controller

Mr. Abdoulie Cham, retired Financial Controller at the Central Bank of The Gambia, yesterday explained to the ‘Janneh’ Commission, the way and manner monies were taken from the bank including a transfer of $3,000,000.00 by Captain Ebou Jallow, to a private bank. The former Banker testified that he worked at the Central Bank from March 1997 to November 2003 and among his responsibilities was to ensure that the books of the bank were kept adequately enough.

According to him, the office of the former president had dealings with the CBG, further stating that there was a Coup D’état on 22nd July 1994 and the immediate reaction of the International Community was to impose sanctions on the former government.

Cham said the governor of the bank was approached by the AFPRC Council and the Bank decided to accept a loan facility amounting to $35,000,000.00 which was coming from the Republic of China on Taiwan, which was to be paid after a grace period of five years; that the two accounts were opened at City Bank in New York, and there were two signatories, in the name of Captains Edward Singhatey and Ebou Jallow respectively.

According to him, Captain Singhateh withdrew his signature while Captain Jallow maintained his; that the bank however received $30,000,000 and in addition, Captain Ebou Jallow and Singhateh deposited $2,000,000 and an additional sum of $220,000; that the late Baba Jobe introduced to them a businessman, who imported rice into the country in order for him to be paid and the bank disbursed his payments amounting to $835,000,000 through a foreign account. He said bags of rice were distributed to the AFPRC Militants who were supposed to deposit proceeds amounting to D200, 000,000 but this was never received.

Mr. Cham informed the Commission that then Governor of the Bank, Nfamara Jatta, himself, and the Attorney General travelled to Geneva in Switzerland, to recover the $3,000,000 that was transferred by Captain Ebou Jallow; that it is from the proceeds of the loan of $35,000,000 that the Daily Observer was purchased from Keneth Betts, to the tune of $268,000; that Arch 22 was also built from the same funds to the tune of $1,000,000 and as well as the Airport. He said Baba Jobe went with invoices on instructions from the former president whom he said was used by the former president.

Mr. Cham further revealed that the Governor of the bank allowed for an overdraft on the account by the office of the former president and there was a letter from the former president indicating that they were expecting $30,000,000 from Colonel Ghadafi, necessitating the former Finance Minister Nfamara Jatta, Dodou Bami Jagne, Alieu Ngom and Baba Jobe, were sent to Libya to finalise the loan amount of $30,000,000; but that this never came.

The witness disclosed that the overdraft on the account was $28,500,000 and the former Governor owned up their liabilities. He said in Early February 2003, the former government made an arrangement to settle their liabilities at the Bank. Mr. Cham revealed that CBG paid over $10,000,000 to Muhammed Bazzi, for the refurbishment and expansion of transmission within the Greater Banjul Area while another payment of $1,500,000 was paid to Sight Gambia Investments, signed by Baba Jobe.

On the 19th December 2001, the sum of $75,000 was paid to Baba Jobe while on the 2nd November 2001, there was a telegraphic transfer of $500,000 to Genus Import and Export Services; on the same date T.K Motors was paid $600,000. He stated that on the 24th of August, 2001, the sum of $800,000 was paid to EAW Group on instructions of the former president noting that $2,000,000 was paid to Wes Coast Property Holdings and signed by Baba Jobe on the instructions of the former President; that Mr. Jobe received two personal cheques of the former president from the Republic of China, amounting to $2,000,000.

Transactions documents in respect of City bank accounts ranging from 2000 to 2001, summary of transactions, certificate of incumbency by the former president, withdrawal by Jammeh from no account at the Central bank and related documents including a letter from the then Secretary General confirming Baba Jobe’s signature on one of the accounts and documents relating to the building of Yundum Barracks, were admitted as exhibits.

The former accountant in his reply letter to the Managing Director of IMF, regarding the financial situation at the bankers’ bank, Cham stated among other things that there was no misuse of public funds but acknowledged that the reason (s) for financial bridging was that they expected funds from a bilateral donor, Ghadafi in particular.

It was further observed that there were no social program transactions as claimed by the former president but there were transactions relating to Agriculture and that Cills benefited to a tune of $3,000,000; that funds that were spent were not captured in their financial records because the government failed to take responsibility but they were later captured and entered as suspension after government conceded.

The witness adduced that everyone knew how the former government was and after they took over, they summoned the governor of the bank saying that they did not inherit this or that and also explained that they had development projects. He said the state of affairs then was clear and the constitution was suspended.