By Buba Gagigo
The CEO of Dabanani Electrical Company alleged that the government has frozen his company’s Bloom Bank account ‘illegally’ without proper investigations.
“It’s an ECOWAS contract. ECOWAS and the World Bank sponsored it. I work with about five companies. We won Gambia, and another company I work with won Mali. ECOWAS wanted to have increased coverage of electricity among its Member States. So, phase I consists of Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mali. Phase II will come next year. So when we tendered, about five companies I worked with, one of the companies from India, we won Gambia. There is another company, also in India, we won Mali.
“Government tried very hard for us not to get it. But this is not a government contract, eventually we were awarded. When we were awarded, the main contractor, my agreement with him was when we get the contract they will do the supply part and I will do the installation part,” Alagie Conteh said.
The Dabanani boss said the contractor went ahead to sign the contract with NAWEC and after signing the contract with NAWEC; they signed with him the installation part amounting to close to $10 million.
“So based on the terms of that contract I have to provide a performance bond and advanced payment bond and I did that through Bloom Bank. So when we provided the advanced payment bond and performance bond, I sent a letter to the main contractor in India called KEI. When they got my letter and saw the bonds were correct, they paid my advanced payment and the advanced payment is roughly around $1.6m, but prior to the payment of the advanced payment I was having around Three-hundred thousand Dollars, there ($300,000).
“The total is close to two million dollars. So when this came into my account, it was there for almost about three months. I think the government realised last week that the money was in my account. From what I hear the President called the IGP to tell him he should call the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to freeze my account. So when FIU got the information from IGP, they also communicated to Bloom Bank to freeze my account. But before that, what happened was they went to the bank to say the government is having doubts about these accounts and they wanted to investigate it. That is normal in Banking, if the government has doubts in any account, the Bank will write to FIU formally to investigate the account. The bank knows fully well that it is not money laundering. So they wrote to FIU to investigate the account, but FIU did not do any investigation,” he added.
CEO Conteh said the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) just wrote a letter to the bank to freeze his account without any investigation.
“Nobody called me, the Serious Crime Unit did not call me, [and] FIU did not call me. I only came to know about this on Friday that my account with Bloom Bank has been frozen. This is wrong. I am not doing money laundering; this is a genuine project and it is a genuine contract. I have my contact documents with me. Why should Barrow just get up and say, I am supporting UDP and they should freeze my account. Why?” he asked.