“I AM NEITHER A REVENUE COLLECTOR NOR A SAFE KEEPER” Former Gambian Ambassador Tells Court

By Rohey Jadama

Mr. Ousman Badjie, the former Gambian Ambassador to France as well as the erstwhile Minister of Works, Construction and Ousman BadjieInfrastructure, told the Banjul High Court presided over by Justice Simeon Ateh on Wednesday 17 February, 2016  that he is neither the revenue collector nor a safe keeper of the embassy in France.

Mr. Badjie said this in his testimony when responding to questions from state prosecutor A.M. Yusuf during cross-examination

The state prosecution alleges that former Ambassador Badjie between 14th to 30th June 2014, as head of mission in the Gambian embassy in Paris, had caused economic losses to the government of The Gambia to the tune of 34, 333 Euros being revenue collected but not deposited and other shortages caused by Faisal Bojang, the then financial attaché at the said embassy.  He however denied the charges.

The Defendant is represented by Lawyer Lamin S. Camara.

“The Ambassador is neither a revenue collector nor a safe keeper. The Foreign Service Rule 0229 stipulates that the financial attaché is responsible for all the disbursement and receipt of all revenues, these duties shall be supervised by the head of chancery,” said the former Gambian ambassador to France.

Mr. Badjie told the Court that defence exhibit D is saying that the ambassador will only step in as a signatory to the account if the financial attachee and the head of chancery are away or on leave.

“Before the recommendation, there were three home based staff at the embassy; the Deputy Head of Mission, the Consular for UNESCO matters, and the Financial Attachee who committed this crime, and myself. The counselor for UNESCO matters was returned home and appointed as Permanent Secretary and Faisal Bojang absconded and I was left with the deputy head of mission,” he said.

Mr. Badjie said in December 2013, he called the deputy head of mission and the financial attachee for inspection and the preparation for the submission of the new budget. He said when Faisal Bojang was installed in Paris, he came with the then director of National Treasury accompanied by Malick Sillah, a Senior Accountant.

He continued “As usual they inspected the embassy’s account and that was the longest inspection they had and they submitted their report in November.”

Mr. Badjie said the protocol welfare officer is at the front office and that he receives all applications for visa and then takes the applications to the financial attachee and that the latter will then issue receipts through the protocol welfare officer to the applicants.

When asked when he reported the incident of Faisal Bojang to the police, Badjie responded that he reported it on the very day the bank informed him about the issue which was on February 20, 2014 and that the outcome of this report is contained in the police report dated 22 May, 2014 and which is Defence Exhibit H.

“I am on record before this court that as soon as I received the police report I called the tribunal in Paris and I explained to them about the whole case and that the matter has been reported to the police and they have issued a report and that now we want advice so as to take legal action against the bank and they referred me to their expert on monetary and financial matters. I went with the deputy head of mission who also doubles as the head of chancery and we explained the matter to her,” said the former ambassador.

He continued “She gave us her candid and honest opinion in accordance with the French Financial and Monetary Act that any forged signature should be obvious by looking at it with your naked eyes.  After comparing the purported forged signature and the official documents signed by the deputy head of mission, she said she did not see any difference. Her candid advice was that we have no case with the Bank,” said Mr. Badjie.

At this juncture, the case was adjourned to the following days   11,12,13,14 April, 2016 starting at 10am respectively for the continuation of cross-examination of former ambassador Badjie.