The latest revelations and information now coming out regarding the Central Bank’s alleged D11.1 million bribery affair makes it urgent for an independent investigation – especially after one of the high-profile victims of the internal CBG probe has cried foul.
Already there has been a call for a probe by the National Assembly and or the central government / Office of the President, which according to the TAT story was sent a letter of complaint by one of the victims.
If we go by the contents of the TAT story, one of the victims feels he was not treated fairly under the rules of natural justice.
Traditionally, the Office of the President is petitioned when a public servant feels being treated unfairly or a citizen is aggrieved about a particular matter; and, usually, that high office will look promptly into the complaint received and act swiftly to provide redress.
The allegation fed to our readers since February 2022 is that D155 million in old and mutilated banknotes were deposited at the CBG and that 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.
If this is established to be true, it would be a clear case of money laundering through the very Bank, which has a specialized unit whose sole purpose is to police financial institutions in the country and to prevent such activities which are deemed criminal, from going by Gambian law.
Indeed, money laundering and other nefarious financial activities such as laundering the proceeds of criminal activities, as well as terrorism financing are also international crimes.
And if we go by GAIBA agreements, that international institution and its Gambian collaborators must also get involved.
We note that journalists and the media have been involved in GAIBA public sensitization campaigns and, therefore, as stakeholders, we cannot now be mute on such allegations, especially when it is about alleged financial crimes at the country’s apex bank.
Moreover, our esteem readers need to be reminded that there is a mandatory requirement, made several years ago by the government, for the commercial banks operating in the country to report on customers whose bank deposits and transactions over a specified threshold raise suspicion; and, all banks are required by law to report such to this specific unit of the CBG.
Years ago this was what prompted a local newspaper to print a headline warning the general public as follows: Banks now Required to Spy on Customers and Report them to the Authorities.
Thus we must now ask the question: Did this CBG unit spring into action to probe the alleged suspected money laundering and bribery at the CBG? Or is it a case of the application of double standards by our public institutions?
What is obvious though is that this matter is a test for the newly sworn-in government in Banjul, and is crucially coming to the fore after the VP’s speech at the recent Cabinet retreat harping on the importance of good governance in the new dispensation.
Thus all stakeholders are concerned, anxiously watching and waiting to see how things unfold.
Will the Governor resign as promised should there be the slightest inkling of some truth in the allegations? Time will tell.
In any case, what happens, in this case, will help shape public perceptions about the much-talked-about “corruption” in the new Gambia.
Also, important is our future ranking in the global perception indexes on corruption and good governance in the Gambia. And our donor partners too will be interested in the outcome of any meaningful probe into such a grave allegation.
Logically, the CBG board and management cannot dismiss the matter as the work of ‘scammers’ and then turn around and sack the two deputy governors! For if indeed the whole affair was such, as presented to the public by both the CBG and police, then why the sacking of the two senior CBG officers?
Moreover, we recall that the CBG Governor, according to the last TAT report on the affair, had hinted that the police were expected to step in and prosecute the ‘scammers’ in our courts at any time.
We are yet to see, and will welcome any movement on that front since the evidence presented will, no doubt, clarify the matter and enabled all concerned to have a true picture of what happened.