Authorities seize Gambian ex-president Yahya Jammeh’s assets

Yahya Jammeh with Obama - Office of the White House (Amanda Lucidon)

Gambian authorities have seized assets including 86 bank accounts and 131 properties linked to former president Yahya Jammeh in may 2017, according to official sources, as an investigation into the veteran ruler’s wealth gathers pace.

The new government has accused Jammeh of massive fraud including siphoning off public money during his 22-year rule that ended in election defeat and disgraced exile in Equatorial Guinea in January.

“The government has obtained a court order to freeze and place temporary hold on all of Jammeh’s known assets and companies directly linked to him,” Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambedou told reporters.

Fourteen companies in the name of Jammeh or his company KGI were taken over, while livestock and cars belonging to Yahya Jammeh were also seized.

Gambia’s solicitor general said a commission of inquiry would be set up to decide the fate of the assets, Solicitor General Cherno Marenah told Reuters.

Jammeh withdrew $50 million in public money from the Central Bank between 2006 and 2016, Cherno said, which fed a lavish lifestyle including a private jet, a mansion in the United States and a fleet of expensive cars.

A Reuters investigation found that in 2012 and 2013 over $8 million from a bank account in the name of the Jammeh Foundation for Peace, a charity founded by Jammeh, flowed to Jammeh himself, not to foundation projects. Gambia’s justice department is also investigating the charity.

Yahya Jammeh was born on 25th May 1965 in Kanilai, a Muslim of the Jola ethnic group. He attended Gambia High School in Banjul from 1978 to 1983 and served in the Gambia National Gendarmerie from 1984 to 1989. He was then commissioned as an officer of the Gambia National Army, commanding the Military Police from 1992 to 1994. In July 1994, he led a bloodless coup d’etat that overthrew the government of Dawda Jawara and installed himself as chairman of AFPRC, a military junta, and ruled by decree until his election as president in 1996.

He was re-elected as president in 2001, 2006 and 2011, but lost to Adama Barrow in 2016. His time in office saw the oppression of anti-government journalists, LGBT people and opposition parties. He also led various charitable efforts and led peace efforts in the region. His foreign policy led to a constantly strained relationship with the sole neighbouring country of Senegal. In 2013, Jammeh withdrew the Gambia from the Commonwealth of Nations, and in 2016 he began the process of withdrawing it from the International Criminal Court, later rescinded by the Barrow government.

 

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