By Yankuba Jallow
The Commission of Inquiry set up by President Adama Barrow to probe into the financial dealings of his predecessor Yahya Jammeh, and his close associates from July 1994 to January 2017, has found that former President Jammeh liable for over a billion dalasi in Gambian currency; over three-hundred and four million Dollars; over 29 million Euros, and over 2 million Pounds Sterling.
The Commission report which was submitted on Friday March 29th 2019, was presented to President Adama Barrow, at a ceremony held at State House.
The Commissioners were Surahata Janneh as the Chairperson together with Bai Mass Saine and Abiosseh George.
According to the report, 253 witnesses appeared before the Commission in a period of about twenty two months.
Surahata Janneh, the Chairperson of the Commission, said they discovered huge amounts of stolen Government properties, including properties belonging to other people.
“The amount involved is vast. The quantity of landed properties involved is huge. It runs to over 300 landed properties throughout the length and breadth of the country. We have discovered a huge volume of corruption,” Commission Chairperson Janneh highlighted.
He continued: “In terms of accountability, the Commission has discovered a great number of weakness and flaws in managing Government monies, at the Treasury, the Central Bank and other financial institutions”.
Commissioner Janneh indicated that in terms of good governance, they hope many eyes shall be opened to the dangers the Commission has exposed regarding these failures and lapses, in order to comply with the regulations and best practices in running public institutions.
Chairperson Janneh said the report is a 1,600 page document accompanied by transcripts of exhibits, testimonies, and rulings among others. He explained that the report is divided into nine volumes; that volume 1 contains the introduction; volume 2 contains the innumerable bank accounts belonging ex-President Yahya Jammeh and Companies such as Kanilai Family Farm and Kanilai Family Group; volume 3 contains the landed properties of Jammeh throughout the length and breadth of the country as well as he landed properties of General Saul Badjie in the Kombos; volume 4 contains the Companies belonging to ex-President Jammeh; volume 5 contains Government loans, grants and donations and whether they were profitably used, squandered or stolen; volume 6 contains State Owned Enterprises; volume 7 contains Government procurement of items like petroleum products and vehicles; volume 8 contains policy issues related to Government institutions, the office of the President and the Central Bank of the Gambia; and volume 9, which contains individual responsibility for civil and criminal wrong doings. Volume 9 according to Commission Chairperson Janneh, makes recommendations for those who should pay for the losses, and those who committed serious crimes that require further investigation and prosecution.
The Minister of Justice Abubakar Tambadou, said the report exposes the financial dealings of the former President ranging from complex web intricate and sophisticated international financial transactions that bears all the hallmarks of criminality and money laundering.
Tambadou said the amount that was spent on the Commission during its twenty two months period is a little over 50 million dalasi; that this includes all the expenses incurred during the investigations including the honorarium paid to the three Commissioners and fifty eight staff who worked full time throughout this period; that it also includes Counsel’s fees, food, rentals, stationery, fuel, security etc.
Minister Tambadou said the Commission was able to generate one hundred million, six-hundred and seventeen thousand, four-hundred and forty-two dalasi (D100,617,442), and as well discovered closes to 500 hundred thousand United States dollars ($498,481) from hidden accounts in local commercial banks.
“Moreover, we intend to recover the entire cost of the Commission’s investigations by making those against whom these adverse findings have been made, to bear the costs of recovery in proportion to their responsibilities,” Minister Tambadou said; that the Government of President Adama Barrow has tightened financial regulations in all Government Departments and agencies, so as to prevent corruption and financial leakages in the system; henceforth, the primary objective will be to recover the monies, and will use all legal means at their disposal including civil and criminal proceedings, to achieve these objectives.
Minister Tambadou said they have six months to look into the report and will advise the President on the appropriate action Government should take.
On his part, President Adama Barrow said his Government will make sure that the right policies are in place to ensure financial discipline in Government. “We cannot condone the misappropriation of public funds,” he stressed.
He promised that the report presented to him, will be fully considered and all the recommendations that it carried will be implemented. He called on the Ministry of Justice to prioritise the report in their activities so that it can be shared amongst all Gambians.