3 October 2017

Gambia: Yahya Jammeh Sold Kairaba Hotel to Ma Kharafi, Coordinator Tells Commission

Momodou Lamin Sonko, a coordinator at MA Kharafi Company, yesterday told the commission that looks into the assets and financial transactions of the former President Yahya Jammeh that the former president has sold Kairaba Beach Hotel to MA Kharafi to the tune of $10, 000,000.

In his testimony before the commission, Sonko said he has since 2002 been the coordinator of the company, further stating that they came to The Gambia to build some projects.

Mr Sonko adduced that they had built different roads, including Kairaba Beach Hotel road, the Kafuta Farm road, Mandinaba-Soma road and Sankandi-Karantaba road, as well as the airport.

He posited that the Karantaba-Sankandi road was built at the tune of D24, 054,000, adding that he had withdrawn $10, 000,000 from the Standard Chartered Bank to effect the purchase of Kairaba Beach Hotel from the former president, on behalf of M.A Kharafi.

Mr Sonko stated that the transaction of the sale of the hotel was legally effected, and that Lawyer Mary Samba represented the company, Kharafi, at the time of its purchase.

He adduced that the hotel is handled by one Iyad Kharafi, further noting that he does not know where the former president had acquired the ownership of the hotel, prior to its sale.

At this juncture, documents relating to the construction of roads and other relevant documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

Another person to face the commission was Captain Sulayman Jammeh, who testified and told the commission that he is still serving the Gambia Armed Forces in Banjul.

According to him, he was at some point stationed at Basse and has served for 18 years in the army. But Jammeh said he was during the past 15 years stationed at State House.

Mr Jammeh adduced that he was a captain when he left the State House, further stating that he was an office assistant under General Saul Badjie.

Jammeh said he used to help in the transactions assigned to Saul Badjie by the former president.

He testified that in April 2016, while the former president was with Saul Badjie on "Meet the People's Tour," Saul Badjie had called him and asked him to go to the office of the former governor of the Central Bank to receive some money, on behalf of the former president at a tune of $500, 000, which he was made to understand that he was going to receive only $200, 000.

He adduced that the money was handed over to the household aide, Sergeant Bojang, known as Obama, for onward delivery to the former president.

At this juncture, he was shown a document on which his signature was appended, to which he confirmed that the signature and the copy of the ID card on the document were his.

Mr Jammeh further stated that he received directives from Saul Badjie while he (Badjie) was on "Meet the People's Tour" with the former president.

He told the commission that the purpose of the withdrawal of the money was for the development of Vision 2016 farms, adding that he had never worked on the farms, neither did he visit Sapu and Janjanbureh farms, nor did he benefit from the farms.

Jammeh said he does not know the person who had given 'Babili Mansa' title to the former president.

Ebrima Sallah, the managing director of Trust Bank, who earlier testified, stated that there was a cheque for $2, 000,000 issued by the Embassy of China on Taiwan. He added that there was a document from the office of the former president to receive the cheque and pay the sum of money on 18 January 2012.

He added that the Embassy of China on Taiwan had issued another cheque on 11 January 2013, to be transferred to the JFP, which also amounted to $2, 000,000.

He posited that there was an instruction from the office of the former president for the transfer to be effected, adding that on 27 January 2012, $500, 000 was withdrawn and its purpose was not stated therein.

Mr Sallah further testified that he could not explain whether it was normal for an NGO to withdraw such sums of money, neither did he know whether the withdrawal were reported.

He told the commission that on 30 July 2013, there was a deposit of D6, 200,011.80, further noting that the purpose was to purchase some items by the office of the former president.

He posited that one Sering Nyang also deposited D8, 150,000 into Jammeh Foundation for Peace (JFP) account.

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