A preliminary investigation into the country’s finances has shown that the former president Yahya Jammeh has misappropriated over 4 billion dalasis of public funds, the finance ministry has said.
The amount misappropriated was over US$100 million dollars in a country that shoulders over 48 billion dalasis of public debt, about 115% of the small nation’s GDP.
Officials said Gambia is in a state of “near bankruptcy” with an import cover of less than two months.
In a press conference at the finance ministry in the country’s capital Banjul on Monday evening, Minister Amadou Sanneh said their investigations have also revealed some “alarming and gross mismanagement of public funds”.
“These two accounts totaling US$50, 615, 816- 22 (over two billion dalasi) in deposits of our international call terminating revenue have been withdrawn mainly in cash foreign currency and dalasi converted into foreign currency,” Sanneh said.
“The Jammeh APRC administration has dipped its long arm into workers’ pension funds through rampant “Executive Directives” to the management of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation. A total of D2, 094, 891, 000 was withdrawn by Executive Directives to a multiple of expenditures.”
Sanneh further revealed that Gambia is still paying for the services of lawyers retained for the legal case with Carnegie with retailer fees totaling D59. 28 million.
In 2015, Gambia has lost to a mineral sands mining company Astron Corp. Ltd. in a case at International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes after the company sued the country for an illegal termination of contract.
The award was nearly US$23 million favoring the company in a spat over its revoked license and expropriated mining assets.
Astron held a mining license in the Gambia through its subsidiary Carnegie Minerals (Gambia) Ltd., and Gambia has since moved to annul the award at the ICSID.
“We are verifying the current contract that exists between the Mining operators and a company said to have the mining rights—Alhamdulilah Petroleum and Mineral Company. From our initial investigations of this company, there was no trace of its registration with the Registrar of Companies and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice is assisting us on this matter,” Sanneh said.
Sanneh said their investigation also revealed “with shock that Gambia Ports Authority has bought a new vehicle budgeted at D3 million for D7, 527, 392. 16”, more than double the budget for the item.
Both the finance minister and the Interior Minister Mai Fatty have said the Barrow government will try to recover some of the missing funds.
Jammeh currently lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Other reported missing funds include those spent on building Jammeh’s support base and APRC party.