The Gambia’s justice minister said Monday that ex-leader Yahya Jammeh stole around $50 million via a state telecoms company, while a court froze his assets in the small west African nation.
“President Yahya Jammeh personally or under his instructions directed the unlawful withdrawal of at least $50 million,” said minister Abubacarr Tambadou, describing withdrawals from accounts held at The Gambia’s central bank and linked with state-owned Gamtel.
“We have today obtained a court order freezing or placing a temporary hold on the known assets in the country of former President Yahya Jammeh and companies directly associated with him,” Tambadou added.
It is the first time the new government has officially confirmed the extent of what Jammeh stole from state coffers before leaving for exile in Equatorial Guinea in January after 22 years in power. The court order concerned 88 different bank accounts in Jammeh’s name or those of his associates, Tambadou told journalists, along with 14 companies linked with the former strongman. Jammeh ran everything from bakeries to farms during his tenure and was regularly accused of taking over successful businesses for his own gain.
Monday’s order was designed to prevent Jammeh “liquidating or dissipating assets,” the minister added, confirming the order applied only to the former leader’s assets in The Gambia.