The Gambia Government has contacted the Belgium authorities seeking information on alleged corruption involving Semlex, a company contracted to do the country’s identification cards and passports, the information minister has said.
Demba Jawo told journalists that the Gambia government is concerned about media reports of corruption reportedly involving Semlex, a company own by a Belgian family.
The Reuters news agency has done several stories on the alleged corruption involving the company, but they deny any wrongdoing.
“About the negative media reports about Semlex, the government is very much concerned about that. So what we have done is that we contacted the authorities in Belgium for them to supply us with more information on these allegations of fraud,” Jawo said.
“And the information we have will be taken into consideration at the end of the day. So the contract is not something that has been sealed yet.”
Semlex has bid for the contract with a Gambian own Pristine company which also claims it has a valid contract with the government that was illegally terminated by former ruler Yahya Jammeh.
However, the government said the only company that has a valid contract for the making of Gambia’s ID cards and passports is Semlex.
“Semlex had a valid contract with the government and it was illegally terminated by the former regime… The government set up a task force that looked into both Semlex and Pristine and they ended up giving the contract to Semlex,” Jawo said.
“There was very little the government could do. If we decided not to restore that contract, they could have taken us to court and a lot of money could be involved in that. But the cabinet has asked that certain clauses in the contract to be renegotiated.”
(Reporting and Writing by Mustapha Darboe; Sourcing from The Torch)