The finance head of Gambia’s social security corporation has told a commission of inquiry that the private company of exiled former president, Yahya Jammeh owes the pensions body over $35 million.
Abdoulie Cham told the commission of inquiry chaired by Sourahata Janneh that the Kanilai Group International (KGI), registered in the name of the former president, owes the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) D1.7 billion dalasis (US$ 35.9 million).
He said the money was given out as loans and withdrawn from several accounts including the national provident fund after an instruction by Jammeh who was then the president, local media report.
Besides KGI, some parastatals and companies including The Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) and the Gambia Groundnut Corporation (GGC) also received D37 million dalasis (USD 781,436) and D222 million (USD 4,688,620) respectively in the same fashion.
Abdoulie Cham said the monies were never retrieved after several attempts as the companies denied responsibility for the debt. “They tell us the loan was given to them through a directive from the office of the former president,” he said.
The Commission, which started its hearing in August asked the SSHFC director of finance to reappear with documents to prove his claim.
Over a dozen people have appeared before the commission set up by the Gambian authorities to probe assets acquired by the country’s ousted ruler.
Jammeh is accused of corruption and spending millions of dollars in the last three years of his rule as well as emptying the state coffers before he went on exile earlier this year.
At least 184 landed properties, 95 bank accounts and 17 companies associated with him have been seized.
Yahya Jammeh was beaten by Adama Barrow in the December 2016 elections and he refused to cede power creating tension in the small West African country.
West African regional bloc ECOWAS initiated series of meetings for him to cede power, and it took six weeks of negotiations, military intervention and immunity deals for him to agree to leave power and go into exile in Equatorial Guinea.
(Reporting and Writing by Mustapha Darboe; Editing by Sam Phatey)