(JollofNews) – The ongoing commission of inquiry into the financial dealings of Gambia’s former long-term ruler Yahya Jammeh, Monday summoned officials of the former regime to explain why millions of taxpayers’ money was used to buy two ferries in 2011 that are yet to hit Gambian waters.
Appearing before the commission, Kebba Satou Touray, former ambassador to Spain who took part in the purchase of the Kansala and Aljamdu ferries, told the commission that he was a signatory to an account opened in Greece where the money was paid into by both parties in the joint venture agreement between the Gambia Government and Galia Holdings.
“As Ambassador to Spain, I was also accredited to Greece where the acquisition of the ferries was done. I joined the delegation to Athens and I was briefed about the joint venture agreement before being invited as part of the delegation because I am accredited to Greece,” he said.
He added that in the agreement it was clearly stated how the payment should be done. He said it was also agreed that he and Momodou Sabally will facilitate the payment.
At that juncture he was shown the joint agreement document and he identified it as the one that was signed in his presence.
Mr Touraye added: “I joined the delegation twice to Greece. The first mission was to identify and locate the ferries and the mission was mentioned in my quarterly annual update. The account was opened in Athens and the agreement was that the Gambia Government’s 45 per cent will be paid there which will be paid to the sellers.
“The bank account was to be closed down after the ferries were bought and delivered to the Gambia. The advice was normally from our Greek partner regarding the achievements of the milestone that has been rehabilitated and certified by the Greek partners. The ferries were delivered to the Gambia and are yet to be operational.
Also testifying in relation to the ferries, Momodou Sabally, former secretary general and minister for Presidential Affairs in Mr Jammeh’s regime, told the commission that he was a signatory to the Greek account.
He said in 2011, while serving as director of Budget at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, he was instructed by the Office of the President to travel with the mission to Greece to identify the ferries.
He added: “Upon my return, I explained the procedures and agreement that emerged from the trip and I was asked to be a signatory to the account for the payment of the two ferries identified by party members. We were working under the instructions of the Office of former President Jammeh and whenever payment was to be done, we used to seek clearance through the permanent secretary at Office of former President Jammeh by email, and the permanent secretary will reply approving the payments.”
Mr Sabally they used to be sent invoices which they would examine before seeking clearance from the President’s Office for payments to made.
“Records of my transactions relating to this are filled at the Ministry of Finance,” he said.
“The Gambia Government had a percentage to take care of and their partners also had a percentage to take care of according to the joint venture agreement. I don’t know whether their partners paid money into the account and I cannot remember whether the account is closed.”
(Additional reporting by Amadou Jallow)