A Chinese fish processing company in West Africa is bribing local leaders and influential community members, activists from a small fishing village in The Gambia said.
Golden Lead Factory is at the center of a lawsuit by the conservationists demanding at least $300,000 (D15 million dalasis) for damages done to Gunjur’s ecosystem.
The village Chief of Gunjur, Alhagie Giki Darboe admitted said at least $2,500 (D100,000 dalasis) was given to him by the company and had given the sum to a development committee to distance himself from corruption allegations.
“I was given D100,000 dalasis by the Chinese but I handed it over to the Village Development Committee. I, personally, feel that it was given to me because of my position as the village chief,” Darboe said.
The village’s sports committee said in a press release that Golden Lead has pledged $4,150 (D166,000 dalasis) to help fence the Gunjur soccer park.
Members of a task force challenging Golden Lead in the Gambia’s High Court say the pledge was a “bribe to get the support of the village youths” to bring the litigation to an end.
Golden Lead is appearing in court next month over accusations of polluting Gunjur’s environment and poisoning a creek leaving dead many aquatic animals dead.
Golden Lead has denied polluting Gunjur’s ecosystem and Gambia’s environment agency reached an out of court settlement allowing the company to continue operations.
Gambia is fighting illegal fishing in its waters and turning to private companies to help crackdown on the illicit activity in its rich waters.
More than 3,000 Chinese fishing trawlers are in West African waters to meet the demand of Asian nation’s large population. West Africa has some the richest fish stocks in the world, but they are being rapidly depleted by industrial trawlers.