Friday, October 27, 2017

To attract world-class investors, Gambia must throw out the briefcase "investors"

Mrs. Amie Bensouda, Lead Counsel 
The Commission of Inquiry into the illicit wealth of ex-dictator Yaya Jammeh has been sitting for three months.  And because it has exhausted its initial mandate, government decided to extend it for a further six months. and has exhausted its initial three-month mandate.

The Commission of Inquiry was initially greeted with some degree of public skepticism, in part, because of the atmosphere of impunity that prevailed in Jammeh's Gambia, especially as it relates to some of the main culprits, the likes of Amadou Samba, Mohamed Bazzi and Fadi Mazegi, who have been the principal beneficiary of the protective shield that Yaya Jammeh built around these untouchables.

Public skepticism has started to dissipate, however slowly, with the progress registered by the Commission of Inquiry under the Chairmanship of Mr. Surahata Janneh, the members and the strong, fearless and meticulous questioning by Mrs. Amie Bensouda as the Commission's lead counsel.  Public confidence soared to new heights when, one of the untouchables and the blue eyed boy of the former Gambian dictator, Adama Samba, was called before the Commission this week to provide answers to sweetheart deals that he enjoyed under 22 years of Jammeh's vile dictatorship.

Prior to his appearance, Amadou Samba's business partners - Mohamed Bazzi and Fadi Mazegi and others - faced the Commission to respond to similar dubious business transactions that have threatened the security and the financial integrity of the country by assaulting the financial infrastructure, comprising of the Central Bank and numerous commercial banks that were used in illegal activities. 

The revelations to date about the business practices of two of the primary shareholders of the Euro-Africa Group i.e Amadou Samba and Mohamed Bazzi about how the Social Security and Housing Finance  Corporation was leveraged to secure loans from Trust Bank the proceeds of which was handed over to Euro-Africa to pay for a consignment of heavy fuel oil meant for NAWEC, as if the funds were theirs and not SSHFC.  These loans were raised in the name of Gambian pensioners to pre-finance the business operations of Amadou Samba and Mohamed Bazzi.

The Commission of Inquiry's work thus far has established the fact that the biggest and most influential businessmen were nothing but leeches who preyed on The Gambia through one of the most corrupt and brutal dictator who profited from those encouraged to prey on a weak and vulnerable country.  These unconventional and  predatory business practices by these briefcase businessmen have long been suspected to have been the modus operandi of these so-called economic operators but were never proven until now.  Thanks to the Commission of Inquiry.

What we approximately three dozens sittings of the Commission has reveled and what we have learned from the revelations to date is that unless the Barrow government start to rid the economy of this category of briefcase investors who have a stranglehold on the economy, the country will be a failed state in months rather than in years.

It is time to throw all the non-Gambia briefcase "investors" out of the country and ban all those - including Gambians - found wanting from ever competing for publicly-financed projects, either from external loans or locally-finance projects because they are a threat to the national security of the country.  It is time we apply stringent criteria in our selection of investors coming to do business in the Gambia and, in our opinion, the Commission of Inquiry is showing the way by revealing all the unscrupulous fly-by-night operators who got rich by virtue of their greed and dishonesty at the expense of everyone else.