Wednesday, August 22, 2018

US$ 900M is no '"chicken change", Amadou Samba owes Gambians an explanation

AMASA Holding Ltd. registered in China 
In August 21, 2017 we published this blog post.  We are republishing it here with the same questions we raised then, which we will pursue until answers are provided and justice is done on behalf of the Gambian people. 

The Gambian economy was destroyed and public resources wantonly squandered through illicit transfers using various means, including offshore accounts, by corrupt partners of the former regime.  The new political dispensation deserves better. 

The Panama Papers listed $ 900 million against the name of a company named AMASA Holding Ltd. owned by Amadou Samba.  Two addresses were shown to be the home of the company -  78 Atlantic Road, Fajara, The Gambia and  No. 103 Ezian, Wanxin Village, Waxi City, in Wuxi City, Jiang Su Province, People's Republic of China.

$ 900 million, almost $1 billion is no 'chicken change' (a favorite Jammeh lingo) by any standard, including American.  By Gambian standard, the amount is obscenely humongous for a country as dirt poor as ours.

Rather than making threatening phone calls, spewing insults and renting "journalists" to defend the indefensible, Amadou Samba owe it to Gambians to explain the origins of the nearly $ 1 billion that pass through his Panama-operated off-shore account , how and to whom were these sums disbursed to.   Renovating and selling properties in Kensington and peddling fishing licenses cannot account for a million dollar, much less a billion.

What we do know, up to this point, that we are in a position to disclose is that both Amasa Holdings Ltd. and the off-shore accounts in Panama are non-operational but not before almost $ 1 billion of bank transactions went through the account in Panama.
Amadou Samba and the man he 'managed' 

What Gambians and authorities around the world would like to know is the origins of these funds and to whom were they disbursed.  All of it cannot be proceeds from companies owned by Amadou Samba.  He never owned and operated companies that generated a billion dollar revenue stream.

We have seen, very early in the Commission sittings, the numerous schemes hatched by Yaya Jammeh and his enablers with the primary aim of siphoning off public funds meant for development assistance.  These funds, once schemed off the top, find their way into local commercial banks and other destinations.

Until the alarm bells were sounded by the former Senegalese Minister of the Environment, Ali El Haidar, Yaya Jammeh was illegally exploiting Senegalese timber from the Casamance region at a rate that, according to experts, Senegalese forest cover may be depleted in two years because of the unsustainable rate of exploitation.  According to estimate,  The Gambia earned $ 238.5 million in timber exports mainly to the People's Republic of China.  Gambia was second only to Nigeria in redwood timber exports when Gambia has approximate 2% of forest cover confirming that these timbers were coming from Casamance.

Gambians demand to know who benefited from these operations and where's the money?  Westwood Company Ltd. has been prominently featured by some Senegalese authorities and identified as an active partner of Jammeh in the exploitation of the redwood.   The petroleum sub-sector demand special attention that requires external (legal) assistance in piecing together the numerous contracts entered into with African Petroleum and others to protect the interest of the Gambian people against unscrupulous con-artists who pose as legitimate businessmen.

There are other known international illicit trade in arms and ammunition, drugs (mainly cocaine) and human trafficking.  The Gambia had become the hub for these illicit trade during Jammeh's 22-year dictatorship.  Illicit and private mining conducted under the cloak of secrecy provides the Commission with a wide range of possibilities to uncover more of Jammeh's secrets that could not have been possible without the active participation of civil servants and businessmen and women of all hue and nationalities.