Talk of a ‘plot’, and ‘bad faith and a smear campaign’ in Central Bank’s alleged bribery affair

CBG Governor Buah Saidy and IGP Abdoulie Sanyang

In the Central Bank of the Gambia (CBG) alleged D11.1 million bribery matter, The Alkamba Times (TAT) in its ongoing investigations has heard claims of a “plot” from a senior CBG official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“This is a whole plot by the Governor to get rid of his two principals in Dr. Saikou Jabbie and Dr. Drammeh, who are very critical of some of his unprofessional conduct”, he told TAT.

It would be recalled that following a news report by TAT on 16 February 2022, the CBG management announced the launch of an internal investigation.

The TAT news report carried the allegation that D155 million in old and mutilated banknotes were deposited at the CBG, and D11.1 million was given as a bribe to bank staff to facilitate changing the mutilated banknotes into good banknotes which would then be released into circulation in the market.

Subsequently, a CBG internal investigation report accused the 1st and 2nd deputy governors of failing to act swiftly on the allegations, and they were consequently removed from their posts.

The report said the 1st deputy governor “is found wanting for serious misconduct and dereliction of duty”, while the second deputy governor “concealed vital information regarding the allegation being investigated.”

Meanwhile, TAT investigations further suggest that the Inspector General of Police, Abdoulie Sanyang, who is believed to be a close friend of Governor Saidy, collaborated with Saidy to mislead the public by claiming that the operation was conducted by “scammers”.

The CBG internal investigation team included Mr. Mamodou Mboge, Adviser to the Governor of the Bank, Mr. Omar Janneh, Director of Administration and General Services, Mr. Saikou Touray, Officer-in-Charge of the HR department and Mrs. Ajie Amie Jagne, Senior Legal Officer, who was reportedly handpicked by the Governor, and their report raised more questions than answers.

So, when TAT’s latest findings from the contents of a flash drive paint a different picture. It contains the records of telephone calls and texts, records of WhatsApp calls, texts and audios, records of Messenger messages and email correspondences

This flash drive was reportedly handed over to then 1st Deputy CBG Governor BaSaikou Jabbie by Lawyer Lamin Ceesay of the Solie Law Chambers, being the representative of Ansumana Bah.

The memory stick contains the communications and correspondence between Ansumana Bah, an alleged owner of the D155 million mutilated banknotes, and Abdou Ceesay, a CBG official and insider who allegedly received the D11.1 million bribe on behalf of 18 other Central Bank staff members.

After examining the contents, our investigation team is of the view that they corroborated TAT’s earlier reports suggesting that a bribe was paid and the CBG Governor was aware of the affair.

In one of the communications, one Pa Ceesay (not related to Abdou Ceesay) was heard facilitating a meeting between Abdou Ceesay and Ansumana Bah.

Abdou was also heard in one of the audios speaking to Bah who later visited the Bank and claimed to have paid Bank officials D11.1 million to get them to change the mutilated D155 million notes into good banknotes fit for release into the circulation.

CBG CCTV footage TAT reviewed revealed a meeting between Abdou Ceesay and Andumana Bah, which meeting Governor Saidy was also believed to be aware of, as well as the transfer of D155 million to the coffers of the Bank.

“This is a whole plot by the Governor to get rid of his two principals in Dr. Saikou Jabbie and Dr. Drammeh who are very critical of some of his unprofessional conduct”, a senior Bank official who spoke to TAT on condition of anonymity said.

In another development, TAT has laid hands on a letter purportedly written to the Office of the President by the former 1st deputy Governor, Dr. BaSaikou Jabbie, parts of which stated as follows:

“I have been under constant harassment in the past 15 months all bent on a smear campaign against my character and personality. With CBG being a very important Institution and recently being in the press for the wrong reasons, I never wanted to worsen the situation for obvious reasons.

“However, it has reached the climax now that I found it appropriate to submit a befitting response to the bad faith and smear campaign against my personality.”

In March 2022, the Governor set up an Internal Committee to investigate the alleged fraud amounting to the D155 million scandal.

“The Committee presented its report at a Board Meeting on Monday, April 11, 2022. All the Board Members were copied with the report, except Mr. Essa Drammeh (DG2) and my humble self, Dr. Seeku Jaabi (DG1), in a dubious, stage-managed, and calculated move to taint our reputation.

“I received the letter on the Committee’s report dated April 13, 2022, with no surprise. It was regrettable for one to be found wanting in a fraud investigation that I knew nothing about – from A to Z – of the alleged transaction.

“I only knew about the alleged fraud when things collapsed with the claimants’ unsuccessful attempts to recover their funds.

“I was contacted as a senior official of CBG to find out from Abdou Ceesay the extent of his involvement in the scandal for a possible return of the alleged funds. I had no proof of the allegation, just a mere call (hearsay) not solid enough to share with the Governor who was out in Dubai.

“When I received the letter from Solie Chambers with a Flash Drive at the close of business on Thursday, February 10, 2022, I shared with Governor on his return from Senegal for timely action on February 14, 2022, with a meeting on it only three days later, which was not questioned by the Committee.

“The planning meeting with key staff who matter scheduled for Friday, February 11, 2022, could not proceed as I had a Board Meeting of the Association of Chartered Institute of Bankers (ACIB) at Ecobank Bank, and DG2 started at the Eye Clinic.

“It is not like one has to act fast to prevent the alleged fraud from taking place, as this was done and dusted with DG2 and myself not part of the alleged transaction chain.

“My intervention was called to help resolve the matter, but not to prevent it as that is impossible.
It is paradoxical for the Committee to clear Mr. Abdou Ceesay totally from the alleged fraud, declaring the allegation as a scam, non-existent and false, but found Deputy Governors in Mr Essa Drammeh and my humble self wanting for concealment of vital information on something fake.

“This is unfortunate, stage-managed, ridiculous, biased, laughable and a manifestation of a massive ulterior motive and a calculated move based on bad faith.

“This is evident as all witnesses were asked about my interactions with them on this matter, instead of focusing on the core alleged fraud case. It is all the conspiracies and targeting my personality with a BROADER MISSION to tarnish my HARD EARN REPUTATION I fought to protect in my whole life since childhood.

“I never thought of the Institution – CBG – Where I worked for 25 years could profile me in such a manner as if l committed the worst crime.

“I very well know that it’s part of the whole broader targeted plans to embarrass me and put my future at the CBG at high risk,” Jabbie stated in the letter seen by TAT, which he reportedly sent to the Office of the President.

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Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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