Four Gambian officials have been named in an alleged bribery scandal, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. The accused officials work at the president’s office in Banjul. They oversee investment coming into the country.
It was back in July of 2017, when some Turkish investors jetted into the Gambia. They wanted the new Barrow government to contract them to take care of Gambia’s perennial power crisis. The investors are affiliated with Kinesis Energy, a Turkish based energy firm.
The meeting was held at Gambia’s luxurious five-star hotel—Kairaba beach hotel. One of the Gambian officials allegedly received $100,000 dollars from the delegation. Some brown envelopes were handed over to the rest of the Gambian officials. An unspecified amount of dollar cash was given to the officials, people of knowledge familiar with the deal have intimated.
The Turkish company was brought to the Gambia by a Senegalese millionaire Kaillou Waggeh. Mr. Waggeh is a close associate of the Senegalese president Macky Sall. This was the guy, who donated the mysterious 57 vehicles to president Adama Barrow, which Barrow in turn donated to the members of the National Assembly.
The Turkish delegation had a meeting with the following Gambian officials in the recent past: Yankuba Touray Permanent Secretary in charge of investment at the president’s office; Dawda Fadera, the former Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service. Mr. Fadera was recently named Gambia’s Ambassador to Washington DC by president Barrow. He has been replaced at the State House by Habib Drammeh, Gambia’s most short lived Interior Minister. Fatou Ceesay, Ambassador at large in charge of foreign investment stationed at the State House and Assan Faal, CEO of the Gambia Investment Agency (GIEPA) were at the meeting.
GIEPA has been created by an act of Parliament to oversee all investment related matters in the Gambia. Though, when president Barrow assumed office, he created some phony investment Directorate at the State House under the leadership of Yankuba Saidy. Fatou Ceesay is Yankuba’s boss.
GIEPA and the Ministry of Trade have been rendered redundant by virtue of the creation of the new investment Department at the State House. Now all investments pass through Fatou Ceesay and Yanks Saidy.
World Bank And IMF Frown At Kinesis Energy Deal
The Gambia government has found itself in a quagmire after agreeing to award an untendered contract to the Turkish power company. President Adama Barrow acted on the advice given to him by his investment team, which is a family like network to okay the deal.
Now, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have opposed the deal. The two multilateral institutions said the Kinesis deal will further worsen Gambia’s international debt portfolio. They are also opposed to the Banjul ports expansion project, which was recently awarded to a Chinese company. Neither contracts were tendered.
World Bank and IMF are threatening to withdraw grant money totaling over $50 million dollars recently extended to the new government in Banjul if the Port expansion project awarded to the Chinese firm and the Kinesis energy deals are not rescinded. The $160 million dollars, the EU and other donor partners had committed to funding Gambia’s energy crisis will also be suspended if the government failed to reverse the two deals, my sources told me.
The compromised Barrow investment team have insisted that the government should find ways and means of convincing the World and the IMF to accept the two projects. Gambia’s Ministry of Justice is reluctant to entangle itself into the current mess perpetrated by the greedy economic czars at the State House. Some interest groups associated with the Turkish power deal had been lobbying for a clearance legal opinion or letter of that sort to be issued by the Justice Ministry to alley the concerns of the donor community, particularly World Bank and IMF.
Dubai port world seems to be in the good books of the donors. They rather have Dubai port world than the Chinese firm.
Senegal’s fingerprints are on the Chinese deal, one official told me. Barrow was advised to ride with the Chinese by president Sall. The Gambia government official claimed that Senegal would rather want Gambia to take the Chinese than Dubai port world because the French country had contracted Dubai port to manage its ports for them. It is an open market competition issue, the official said.
President Barrow recently flew to Dubai, where he was introduced to the Dubai port world officials. Mr. Barrow has found himself in a catch 22 situation. He cannot afford or take the risk of revoking the contract his government had signed with the Chinese. The Gambia government had secured a loan facility of $177 million dollars from Exim Bank China to fund the port expansion project. It is a twenty years loan facility with interest.
World Bank and IMF had made its position known to the Gambian authorities in regards to the Chinese deal. They strongly believe that the deal is going to bankrupt the Gambian economy.
Gambia Made A Sovereign Guarantee To Kinesis Energy
The Kinesis Energy deal is a cumbersome one. The new government in Banjul has made an undertaking by submitting a sovereign guarantee commitment pledge to the Turkish firm. The sovereign guarantee has been estimated at $300 million dollars, which is 30 percent of Gambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
A sovereign guarantee is a promissory note made by the Gambia government to pledge that it will pay the Turkish company in the event the contract went bad or if the government defaulted on the contract’s terms and conditions it reached with Kinesis. A sovereign guarantee could be used as a collateral to secure funding from the financial lenders.
Gambia’s current debt to its GDP ratio stood at 124 percent now. If you add 30 percent to that it would be 154 percent, our source added.
Per, the Kinesis contract with the Gambia government, the Gambia is supposed to pay about $6.7 million dollars per month to Kinesis once the contract starts. The Gambia doesn’t have that type of foreign cash in its local banks, one official familiar with the deal told the Freedom Newspaper.
NAWEC, Gambia’s main power energy is heavily indebted. The company is on the verge of being declared insolvent—thanks to the growing debt it owed to the local banks.
NAWEC charges its customers in the local Gambian currency—the dalasi. The company would be required to raise $6.7 million dollars every month to pay up Kinesis.
NAWEC Deputy MD Fired For Refusing To Okay A Power Deal
President Barrow’s investment team at the State House are very powerful. They can get anyone fired if he or she blocks their backroom investment deals.
Nani Juwara the Deputy Managing Director of NAWEC was fired for merely conducting due diligence investigations on a foreign energy firm called ‘AGGREGO.’ The investors were introduced to NAWEC’s management by Fatou Ceesay president Barrow’s Ambassador at large in charge of foreign investment. Mrs. Ceesay wanted AGGREGO to be awarded a two-year contract to sell power to Gambians until the Kinesis deal is figured out.
Two companies wanted to be awarded the contract: AGGREGO and CAR POWER. CAR POWER was brought in by Alhagie Conteh of Dabani. Conteh is also a close associate of the Gambian rookie president.
NAWEC and the other parties tasked to vet the two companies discovered that AGGREGO had allegedly lied on some of the information it provided to the vetting team. Hence, which led to their disqualification.
AGGREGO is operating in Senegal, and elsewhere in the sub-region. Fatou Ceesay was their contact person at the State House.
As soon as AGGREGO fails to secure the NAWEC power contract, Fatou Ceesay turn in Nani Juwara to the president. The president then issued an EXECUTIVE DIRECTIVE by firing Mr. Juwara. Juwara was redeployed to Gam-petroleum, a parastatal company as Finance Director. But when he reported to work at Gam-petroleum, he was told by the MD of the company that they do not have any job for him.
Like Nani Juwara, Information Ministry Perm Sec Lamin Camara was also fired for refusing to succumb to the pressure coming from the State House investment DREAM TEAM. His firing had to do with the digital migration project.
The Gambia is about to phase out from analog to digital world. There are foreign companies lobbying for the contract. Lamin was perceived as a stumbling block against the State House investment DREAM TEAM Czars. He was subsequently transferred to the Ministry of Energy as Perm Sec. Reports have it that he risked being fired soon.
Gambia Pays Close to $ 1 Million Dollars To Senegal’s Senelec company
The Gambia government had reached an agreement with the Senegalese government for Senelec to supply power to neighboring Gambian border villages. Farafenni and Kaur are among the towns benefitting from the power deal.
The dismissed NAWEC Deputy MD Nani Juwara has been accused of falsely advising the president on the Senegalese power deal, per sources familiar with the story. Nani was among the officials who were in support of the deal, our sources added.
Now the government has been faced with budgetary problems in paying the Senegalese. NAWEC pays Senelec close to one million dollars every month for the electricity Senelec supplies to the Gambian border towns and villages. The payments are made in dollars and not in dalasi.
Nigerian Investors Frustrated In The Gambia
Some Nigerian investors were recently in the Gambia. They represent a Nigerian firm called RED STAR. They wanted to set up a crude oil refinery factory in the Gambia. The investors had ties with the Nigerian billionaire Dankoteh. They were hosted at Coco Ocean while in the Gambia.
A member of president Barrow’s investment team was dealing with the investors. The investors had spent close to $250,000 dollars in bribes. They were frustrated in the end and had to leave town.
Conclusion: Family Enterprise At The State House
Fatou Ceesay is a British subject. She used to live in the United Kingdom prior to taking up employment with the Gambian government. She was engaged in forex business in the UK. She transfers remittances from the UK to the Gambia.
She hosted president Adama Barrow when he was in the UK. She also hosted Yankuba Saidy when Saidy was studying in the United Kingdom. Both president Barrow and Saidy used to live with Fatou Ceesay at different times.
Fatou Ceesay played a part in the appointment of Yankuba Saidy as permanent secretary in charge of investment at the president’s office. She ensured that Saidy was moved from the Gambia investment agency (GIEPA) to run the president’s newly created investment department at the State House. She also ensured that her brother Ebrima Ceesay, who used to work at the Gambia Technical Training school (GTTI) was appointed permanent secretary, and later elevated to the portfolio of Secretary to Cabinet.
As soon as Ebrima Ceesay was hired Secretary to Cabinet, his predecessor Ida Auba was moved to Gam-petroleum to serve as Mamburay Njie’s Deputy. Dawda Fadera, was moved this past week from the president’s office as Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service to the Gambian mission in Washington DC. He is yet to assume duties at the DC Embassy.
Fatou Ceesay is virtually running the Barrow presidency. She is responsible for many appointments and firings in the government. She is steadily building a base in the government. She is also running the Central Bank from the State House.
Fatou Ceesay and the officials named in this report could not be reached for immediate comment.