.By: Mafugi Ceesay
Senegalese Ambassador Promises Justice for Gambians allegedly Defrauded of millions of Dalasis by Senegalese National
A runaway fraudster, shuttered offices and angry customers seeking repayment for millions of Dalasis list the outcome or what is left of the Sounbounou Travel Agency, if it ever did exist and the matter appears to be a subject picking up steam in different areas.
Mr Demba Jallow, owner of the Jallow Tours told the Alkamba Times that he had a meeting with the Senegalese High Commissioner to The Gambia, Mr Basiru Saine on Tuesday, January 25 to facilitate the repayment of D1,143, 612, (One hundred thousand and forty three, six hundred and twelve dalasi) from Mr Cheich Soumbounou, a Senegalese businessman who owns Soumbounou Travel Agency in the Gambia.
Mr Demba Jallow explained that: “the Ambassador pleaded with him to give Mr Soumbounou until February 25, next month to deliver the car or money”.
Mr Jallow said Ambassador Saine also called Mr Soumbounou and explained to payment scheme which he accepted.
“I also told Ambassador Saine about all the other people Soumbounou is owing ranging from Satguru Travel Agency, Tambedou Family, and Air Maroc”.
“Ambassador Saine promised to take it upon himself to make sure that Mr Soumbounou delivers the car or my money in full. He also pleaded with me to drop all the court cases and media revelations because that’s worrying him but I told him that’s not possible because its the only way possible to get back my money.
Mr Jallow told TAT that on March 22, 2021, he went into a business agreement with Soumbondou Travel Agency, operated by a Senegalese businessman to sell him a car that was going to be ordered from Dubai by the Chief Executive Officer, Cheikh Soumbounou.
Jallow further explained that after paying Soumbounou Travel Agency the money (D1,143, 612, one million, one hundred thousand and forty three and twelve
dalasi) in full on the same date using his company name (JallowTours) account with GTBank to Soumbounou Travel Agency’s GTBank account, Mr Soumboundu failed to deliver as agreed.
“As Part of the agreement, Mr Soumbounou was supposed to buy and deliver a Toyota 2020 with zero mileage in Dubai and deliver it to me in the Gambia within three months whilst covering responsibility for shipment and clearance from the ports. But after Mr Soumbounou could not deliver as promised, I engaged the police ranging from the Minister of Interior, Yankuba Sonko, Abdoulie Sanyang IGP, Boto Keita head of the CID, operations commander Landing Bojang, Abdoulie Jawara head of Interpol, Pateh Jallow commissioner west coast, and Mr Jamanka at the Kairaba Station who first handled the case to get my money refunded or have Mr Soumbounou deliver but to no avail.”
The young Gambian businessman who looks totally frustrated by the turn of events explained that he was represented by his lawyer in the said business transaction, adding that Mr Soumbounou ran away with his money and is nowhere to be found.
In July 2021, Jallow reported the matter to the police and tried to get the police involved to ensure the alleged fraudster’s arrest and faced many difficulties.
Jallow said he reported the case to the Interpol Gambia Chapter and the State Intelligence Unit and personally met the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) the Inspector General of the Police (IGP) and the Ministry of Interior in person to discuss the matter.
“Interpool and SIU did their best to support me. They requested a branch warrant from the relevant office within the police headquarters to apply for a bench warrant and in over four (4) months I couldn’t get a bench warrant which takes few days,” Mr Jallow explained.
He added that after much frustration, he filed a civil suit against the fugitive Senegalese businessman in absentia who never attended any court proceedings at the Kanifing Magistrates court since 2021, noting that three magistrates also distanced themselves from the case for reasons best known to them.
“I am confused and have lost hope in my country law enforcement and security operations, not all our securities are bad but we have lots of things that need improvement. If this was done in Senegal by a Gambian, it will take the Senegalese government and security a day at most to get the Gambian arrested. What would have happened to me if this money was a bank loan? I would have been in jail. The money is D1,143, 612, Dalasis and I have all the details and prove of this business as well as the check I issued.”
The Alkamba Times tried to reach the communications of the Interpol Gambia Chapter in Dubai, Morocco and Senegal enquiring about the whereabouts of Mr Soumbounou.
Meanwhile, the Senegalese Interpol did not reply to the Gambia Chapter’s request for reasons best known to them and Dubai made it clear that Mr Soumbounou was not in their country, whilst Morocco requested for the Gambia Chapter to provide them with an arrest and bench warrant but Mr Demba Jallow could not get this from the Gambia chapter from August 2021 to date apparently because the Magistrate supposed to provide it was infected with Corona.
“Moroccos Interpool requested for an arrest warrant which should be accompanied by a bench warrant but I can’t obtain this since last year to date” Demba Jallow revealed.
Mr Demba Jallow said that during a meeting with Abdoulie Sanyang (IGP), Abdoulie Sanneh director of prosecutions confirmed that the Bench warrant would be ready on the date of the meeting on August 23, 2021, but nothing was done.
“I tried many times to have Soumbounou charged with false pretence to acquire money from me among other criminal offences but to no avail, since every police officer seem to know him and discouraged all efforts to have him charged with a criminal offence, they all keep saying there is no iota of a criminal offence in the matter.
“My lawyer filed a civil suit and divided it into two motions; one of which is D7500,000 and the second motion 393, 612 Dalasis for the magistrates court to hear the case”, Jallow told TAT which is in possession of a text conversation with the officer who arranged a meeting between Demba Jallow and the IGP.
Alkamba accompanied Mr Demba to the Senegalese High Commissioner on Monday 24, 2022 to lodge his complaint of action against their citizen (Cheikh Soumbounou) and he was given an opportunity on Tuesday 25, 2022 to have an audience with the high commissioner.
During the said meeting, Jallow told Alkamba that: “The Ambassador himself, Basiru Saine told me to give Soumbounou until February 25 to deliver the car or money” adding that the Ambassador Saine personally called Mr Soumbounou and put him on loud speaker and introduced Mr Jallow before making his request for time, which Mr Soubounou accepted.
“I also told Mr Saine about all the other people Soumbounou is owing ranging from Satguru Travel Agency, Tambedou Family, and Air Maroc and Mr Saine promised to take it upon himself and his responsibility to make sure that Mr Soumbounou delivers the car or money in full”.
Jallow said the Ambassador also pleaded with him to drop all court cases and media exposure “because that’s worrying him but I told him that’s not possible as its the only way I believe I can get back my money.”
The Alkamba has seen the Guaranty Trust Bank statement (transferred) of the said transfer of over million dalasis to Cheikh Soumbounou and the contract papers between Demba Jallow and Mr Soumbounou.
When the Alkamba Times contacted Commissioner Sanneh on Monday, afternoon, he referred our reporter to the spokesman of the Police saying his office doesn’t talk to journalists directly, even if a matter is before them.
Mariama Saine, Head of Marketing for Soumbounou Travel told the Alkamba Times that she abandoned her office when some angry customers the company owed threatened to arrest anyone found at the agency if they are unable to get to Mr Soumbounou.
“We are a living witness to this when the Tambedou Family came requesting for their money, they took our accountant to police where she spent three nights before she was allowed to go. For all I know our travel agency cannot afford to buy tickets for customers and uses other travel agencies to buy tickets with a commission payment. I have three legal suits on my desk from several companies including Air Morocco and Satguru Travel Agency who we owe lots of money and our boss disappeared and we are not hopeful that he will be back. And I cannot be taken to court for a wrong that I did not commit.”
She further went to explain that her company owed her five (5) months salary and since her boss’s disappearance anytime she approaches the accountant (Elizabeth) she tells her (Mariama) she did not employ her and she should consult her boss for payment.
When TAT Contacted Madam Elizabeth on Monday January 24th she told Alkamba Times that her office was closed as a result of sickness.
The Secretary supposed to be in the office said she couldn’t go to work because she was afraid to be alone in the office.
However, The Alkamba Times learned on Tuesday, that Madam Elizabeth visited the Soubounou Travel Agency with some people and broke the padlock that was put there by the landlord who claimed that the office owe him unpaid rentals.
The Alkamba has pictures of Madam Elizabeth while she was breaking the padlock to remove some of the company’s files.
TAT also uncovered that Cheikh Soumbounou did not as alleged flee with Mr Jallow’s money, but Satguru Travel Agency that threatened Soumbounou with a legal suit for failure to pay an outstanding debt of D70,101,000 since May 2021.
Part of the Satguru Travel Agency dispatch reads: “Within 10 days if you cannot act on it, we will take legal action against you. This is a friendly reminder that as per the attached statement of account invoices, a pending payment was since 2021 overdue because the auditor from head office has been sending us reminders.”
An audio heard by the TAT allegedly coming from Senegal accuses Cheikh Soumbounou of selling his father’s resources and running to hide in the Gambia but the last time TAT checked, the offices of the Sounbounou Travel Agency were padlocked and shuttered and no one was coming to work.