Mainland Africa’s smallest nation’s despotic defeated ruler, Yahya Jammeh stole $50 million (D2 billion dalasis) from state coffers before leaving for exile in Equatorial Guinea, Gambian authorities say.
“President Yahya Jammeh personally or under his instructions directed the unlawful withdrawal of at least $50 million” from the country’s main telecommunication company’s fiber optic cable account, according to preliminary investigation reports released by the Justice Department.
It is the first time the new government has officially confirmed the extent of what Jammeh stole from state coffers before leaving for exile after 22 years in power.
Gambian authorities had thought that $12 million was taken by Jammeh while fleeing. But a new probe into his financial transactions of at least 88 bank accounts shows four times more money being stolen by Jammeh while on the run to his safe haven.
A court in Banjul has, as a result, ordered the freezing of Jammeh’s assets in the first major anti-corruption move against the ousted leader since the new government took over power.
“We have today obtained a court order freezing or placing a temporary hold on the known assets in the country of former President Yahya Jammeh and companies directly associated with him,” Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou said.
When regional forces were deployed to flush Jammeh out of power, he used a Chadian cargo plane to fly out luxury cars and goods.
Gambian authorities say the “discoveries are just a tip of the iceberg” as the more facts surrounding financial mismanagement by the former regime come to light.
Jammeh, who ruled The Gambia with an iron fist had jailed many senior officials for corruption and economic crimes.
State prosecutors dropped corruption and economic crimes charges against at least 30 former officials of his government, whose prosecution were ruled as politically biased.