Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

Cameroon: Hearing Reveals Marafa-Fotso Case Transactions

The Mfoundi High Court once more recorded a massive attendance yesterday July 31 during the fourth public hearing of the case opposing the Legal Department and the State of Cameroon to Messrs Marafa Hamidou Yaya, Yves Michel Fotso, Nkounda Julienne and three others. They are charged with embezzlement of 31 million US Dollars disbursed by the State of Cameroon in 2001 to buy a new presidential aircraft named Boeing Business Jet Second Generation (BBJ-2) from the Boeing Company.

Appearing as the fourth prosecution witness yesterday, former Cameroonian Ambassador to the United States of America, Jerome Mendouga, recounted instructions by the then Secretary General at the Presidency, Jean Marie Atangana Mebara to save the failing operation to acquire the new presidential aircraft. During a meeting he held with Boeing authorities in Seattle on April 1st 2003, he was told that Cameroon had paid only 4 million US dollars out of the 45 million US dollars which was the aircraft's real price.

The fifth prosecution witness, the Deputy General Manager of Aircrafts Portfolio Management (APM), Otele Essomba Hubert Patrick Marie, explained to the court that while auditing the Cameroon Airlines (CAMAIR) aircraft lease and purchase operations, from January 2003, it was uncovered that the US-based aircraft company GIA International which served as intermediary for the purchase of BBJ-2, did not have the financial, managerial, technical and operational capacity to be involved in the operation. "Before receiving the 31 million US Dollars from the Cameroonian government, GIA International had only 4.9 million US Dollars in its account in the Bank of America. It could not have been able to lease two aircrafts (Boeing 767-200 and Boeing 747-300) to Cameroon Airlines," he said during the Examination-in-Chief. Describing a multitude of transactions through several companies, he established that both aircrafts were acquired with money from the Cameroon government meant for BBJ-2 and leased to CAMAIR. At press time, Otele Essomba Hubert Patrick Marie was still under cross-examination.

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