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Supporters bid former President Yahya Jammeh farewell at the Banjul Airport on 21 January. Jammeh, who left with his family for a new life in exile in Equatorial Guinea, is rumoured to have taken with him millions of dollars in cash in addition to luxury cars which he had shipped in a cargo aircraft to his new home in Malabo / Photo: JSB

Gambia to probe ex-president Jammeh’s wealth

Gambia’s government will launch an investigation into the finances of former President Yahya Jammeh, Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou told Reuters on Friday.

Tambadou said the investigation would include his personal use of a charity bank account.

The government of President Adama Barrow, who beat Jammeh in the December 2016 election before Jammeh fled into exile, had accused Jammeh of siphoning millions of dollars of public funds into various bank accounts.

The government also alleged that Jammeh opened the bank accounts with other people’s names but continued to withdraw cash, including at the central bank.

Reuters found that in 2012 and 2013, more than 8 million dollars cash was withdrawn by Jammeh himself from a bank account in the name of Jammeh Foundation for Peace, a charity founded by Jammeh.

Reuters was, however, unable to determine whether donors intended to support the Jammeh Foundation for Peace, or if donors, charity officials and the bank were aware that Jammeh was using the account to build his personal wealth.

Former President Jammeh and his wife Zineb, who headed the controversial foundation at the centre of the financial probe / Photo: ZJOT

Reuters could also not determine how the withdrawn money was spent.

Tambadou told Reuters that, “We are setting up a commission of inquiry to look into Jammeh’s financial and business-related activities. We will absolutely look into the Jammeh Foundation as part of this inquiry.’’

He explained that the inquiry would begin in the next few months and would be carried out in conjunction with the finance ministry.

Tambadou said donations into the foundation’s account, which, according to bank statements, included payments from Euro African Group and Selectra AG, would be investigated.

“We are going to look at every source of funding that Jammeh had and every withdrawal that Jammeh made.

“We will look at these donors and the circumstances under which these payments were made to the foundation,’’ he said.

The financial probe is part of a wider call for justice following Jammeh’s 22-year rule, which ended in chaos in January when international forces descended on the capital, Banjul, leading Jammeh to step down and seek exile in Equatorial Guinea.

He has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including detention, torture and “disappearance’’ of opposition politicians, journalists and military personnel.

Ken Kamara

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