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Gam Petroleum Saga Trial: Former MD With Operations Manager Charged With 8 Counts

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Saihou Drammeh, former Managing Director and Lamin Gassama, former Operations Manager at the Gambia Petroleum Storage depot in Lamin Mandinary sitting the High Court in Banjul on 4th April 2022

By Landing Ceesay

Saihou Drammeh, former Managing Director and Lamin Gassama, former Operations Manager at the Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility depot in Lamin Mandinary are charged with 3 counts of economic crimes and 5 other counts in the Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility Limited corruption saga.

The eight counts are levelled against the two in their maiden court appearance at the High Court in Banjul on Wednesday presided over by Justice Haddy Roche.

Their appearance in court followed their arrest on their alleged involvement in corruption, malpractices and the missing of USD 20 million at the depot.

Lawyer M.D. Mballow represented the State, while the lawyers B. S. Conteh, and S. Akimbo represented the 1st accused (Saihou Drammeh), and 2nd accused (Lamin Gassama) in the hearing.

However, the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the 8 counts, 3 of which are Economic Crimes.

Counts and their particulars

Count 1 alleged that Drammeh and Gassama conspired to commit economic crimes, contrary to section 368 of the Criminal Code. Cap 10:01 vol. iii Laws of The Gambia 2009.

The particulars of the offence stated that between January 2021 and October in 2021 at the depot, the accused acted together with a common purpose to commit felony to wit and caused economic loss to The Gambia through an unauthorized disposal of petroleum products of international traders: thereby committed an offence. 

Count 2 alleged the duo of stealing by clerk or servant, contrary to Section 245 (1) of the Criminal Code, and punishable under Section 258 of the Criminal Code. Cap 10:01, Vol. iii Laws of The Gambia 2009. 

The particulars of the offence said that Mr. Drammeh, on or about the 16 September 2021 as a General Manager for the depot, stole USD 235, 032.00 paid by GACH Global for the supply of petroleum product, the property of International traders in trust of Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility Ltd; thereby committed an offence. 

Count three accused the Directors and Officers of corporations or companies of fraudulently appropriating property, or keeping fraudulent accounts, contrary to section 301 (a) of the Criminal Code, Cap 10:01 vol. iii Laws of The Gambia 2009.

The particulars of the offence stated that the 1st and 2nd accused, sometimes between January 2021 and October 2021, stored at the depot, fraudulently appropriated 5919. 60 metric tons of Gasoil, valued at USD 4,695,189.94  

The particulars continued that they stored at the depot 721.90 Metric tons of Gasoil, valued at USD 692, 323.76, being the property of ADDAX ENERGY SA, an International Oil Trader, in trust of Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility Ltd.

It further stated that the accused acted with intent to defraud, omits to make a full and true entry, thereof in the books and accounts of The Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility depot; thereby committed an offence. 

Count four alleged that Directors and officers of corporations or companies fraudulently appropriating property, or keeping fraudulent accounts, contrary to section 301(a) of the Criminal Code, Cap 10:01 Vol. Ill Laws of the Gambia 2009.

The particulars of the offence said Drammeh, and Gassama, sometimes between January 2021 and October 2021, at the depot fraudulently appropriated 6250.813 metric tons of Gasoil, and  5180.843 metric tons of Gasoline, valued at USD 9, 930, 021, 86.

The Gasoil and Gasoline were said to be the property of TRAFIGURA, an International Traders in trust of Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility Ltd.

The accused are alleged to have acted with intent to defraud, omits to make a full and true entry thereof in the books and account of the Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility depot; thereby committed an offence.

Count five alleged that the Directors and officers of corporation or corporation, fraudulently appropriating property, of keeping fraudulent accounts, contrary to section 301 (a) of the Criminal Code, Cap 1001 Vol. Ill Laws of the Gambia 2009.

The particulars of the offence stated that the former Managing Director and former Operations Manager at the Gambia Petroleum Storage depot sometime between, January 2021 and October 2021, stored at the depot, and fraudulently appropriated the 2, 394.32 Metric tons of PMS Gasoline, valued at USD 1.817, 888.98;  

It stated that a quantity of 3, 042.00 metric tons of AGO gas oil valued at USD 2017. 606. 50, being the property of PSTV ENERGY DMMC an International Oil Trader, in trust of the Storage Facility was stored at the depot, and fraudulently appropriated by the accused with intent to defraud, omits to make a full and true entry thereof in the books and accounts of the Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility depot; thereby committed an offence.

Count 6, an economic crime, contrary to Section 5 (l) of the Economic Crime (Specified Offences) Act, Cap 13.07, Vol. III Laws of the Gambia, 2009; stated that Saihou Drammeh and Lamin Gassama sometime between January 2021 and October in 2021 at the depot caused the fraudulent release of petroleum products of ADDAX ENERGY SA (an International trader).

The particulars added that the 5919.60 metric tons of Gasoil valued at USD 4. 695.189.94 and 721.90 Metric tons of Gasoline valued at USD 692. 323. 76, resulted in the Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) paying to ADDAX ENERGY SA USD 5. 387, 513.07 as trustees through a settlement agreement that caused economic loss to the Gambia; thereby committing an offence.

Count 7, also an economic crime, contrary to Section 5 (f) of the Economic Crime (Specified Offences) Act. Cap 13:07. Vol. Ill Laws of the Gambia, 2009 stated that the accused in the mentioned period and place caused the fraudulent release of Petroleum product of TRAFIGURA  6250,813 metric tons of GASOIL; and 51 80, 843 metric tons of GASOLINE with a total value of USD 9,  930, 021.86, resulted in the facility and MoFEA paying the international trader USD9 930, 021 86, as trustees, through a settlement agreement that caused economic loss to the Gambia; thereby committed an offence.

Another economic crime, which is the eighth count, stated that Saihou, and Lamin, in the said place and period without authority, caused the fraudulent release of petroleum products, thereby committing an offence.

Submission by counsels

In his submission to the Court, B. S. Conteh, one of the Counsels for the accused said they have filed an application for the court to grant his clients bail, pending the determination of the case. 

He added that each of his clients (the accused) have deposited $11 million and further argued that the charges against them are bailable offences.

“The only concern we have is that we want our clients to continue their bail terms from the Police custody so that they can prepare for their defence. The charges themselves are bailable because they are not capital offences,” Counsel Conteh said.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for the State, M. D. Mballow said they would file a counter Affidavit against the request made by Counsel Conteh.

He argued that the charges against the accused include economic crimes which he described as ‘serious’, but requested to be given time to file a counter Affidavit.

Justice Haddy Roche’s response

The presiding judge, Justice Haddy Roche then granted counsel M. D. Mballow’s request to be given time to file a counter Affidavit and adjourned the case to today (Thursday) for argument on the bail application filed by the defense counsel, pending the determination of the case.

The story of today’s hearing would be published in our subsequent publications.

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