The Gambia’s former president has been accused of stealing “at least” 50 million US dollars from the state before he left the country in January, the justice minister has announced. A court has now ordered his remaining assets in The Gambia to be frozen.
A court in the Gambian capital Banjul Monday ordered a temporary freeze of properties belonging to the country’s former long-term ruler, Yahya Jammeh.
The order will affect Mr Jammeh’s companies or organisations directly associated with him and is meant to prevent him from liquidating or dissipating his assets so as not to cause prejudice to the state should there be adverse findings made against him by a court which may require the recovery of assets and money from him.
Mr Jammeh, who governed the Gambia for 22 years, was booted out of power in January 2017 after a shock defeat in the presidential election by opposition candidate Adama Barrow. He is currently living in exile in Equatorial Guinea with his wife and family as part of a deal brokered by regional group, Ecowas.
According to Ba Tambedou, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Jammeh’s 131 landed properties, 86 different bank accounts, 14 companies, and livestock directly associated with him or organisations directly associated with him will be taken over.
“The application for the freezing order was necessitated by the discovery of unauthorised withdrawals of millions of Dalasis and foreign currencies by former President Yahya Jammeh from the Central Bank and other state corporations,” Mr Tambedou said.
He added that preliminary investigations have revealed that between 2006 and 2017, Mr Jammeh had personally or under his instruction directed the unlawful withdrawal of at least D189 million from funds belonging to the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation.
Mr Tambedou further revealed:”Preliminary investigations also revealed that between 2013 and 2017, Jammeh personally or under his instructions directed the unlawful withdrawal at least US$50m from special project funds and international gateway accounts at the Central Bank of the Gambia.
“Again, I emphasised that these are only preliminary findings at this stage and all indications are that the discoveries are just a mere tip of the iceberg. The lists of frozen assets are by no means exhaustive. Investigations are still ongoing and if we find other assets purportedly belonging to him or companies and organisations directly associated with him in this country which are not already included in this freezing order we shall also take immediate appropriate action.
“We therefore request anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of any assets of former President Jammeh or of companies or organisations directly associated with him to come forward and share this information with the nearest police station. Any person who is in possession of assets belonging to Jammeh and who fails to disclose this information may be committing an offence. We therefore urge everyone to approach the nearest police station within 48 hours after the press briefing to report this information.”
Ken Kamara with agency reports