Authorities say ex Gambia president stole US$363 million

Published: 01 April 2019

Yahya Jammeh copyYahya Jammeh (public domain)

By Mark Anderson and Khadija Sharife

Gambia's official inquiry into the corruption of former President Yahya Jammeh found he had looted at least $363 million of public funds during his more than two decades in power.

The two-year inquiry found Jammeh was responsible for “shameless acts of brazen outright thievery at the Central Bank of The Gambia," said Abubacarr Tambadou, the country’s minister of justice.

The Janneh Commision of Inquiry submitted its final report to President Adama Barrow on Friday, but the complete results of the investigation have not been made public.

The report was submitted two days after the OCCRP released its own extensive investigation of Jammeh’s corruption, The Great Gambia Heist. OCCRP’s investigation found Jammeh and his associates looted or misappropriated at least $975 million in public funds and illicit timber revenue.  

Tambadou told reporters that the commission found Jammeh had stolen $304.7 million, 1.1 billion dalasi ($22.13 million), 29.5 million euros ($33.17 million) and 2.25 million British pounds ($2.94 million) from the central bank during his 22 years in power.

Jammeh's financial activities included "complex webs of intricate and sophisticated international financial transactions," Tambadou said.

The commission said Jammeh claimed ownership of 281 properties in Gambia, including his palace in his hometown of Kanilai and a house in Potomac, Maryland.

Foreign governments are helping to track and recover Jammeh’s assets, Tambadou said without giving details.

Barrow had set up the official investigation, which is known as the Janneh Commission, after its chairman, Surahata Janneh, six months after Jammeh left for self-imposed exile in Equatorial Guinea in 2017. He remains there today.

One local media outlet reported that that the investigation report might not be released for six months.

OCCRP’s investigation found Jammeh and his associates looted or misappropriated at least $975 million. Among their biggest targets:

  • $363.9 million from the state-run telecoms company;
  • $325.5 million in illicit timber revenue;
  • more than $100 million in foreign aid and soft loans from Taiwan;
  • $71.2 million from the Central Bank of The Gambia;
  • $60 million from the Social Security and Housing Finance Corp., which manages disability, housing, and pension payments; and

  • $55.2 million from the state-run oil company.

Gambia has also established a official inquiry into human rights abuses committed during Jammeh's reign known as the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. The investigation continues.