A task-force has been set up in The Gambia by the Board of Directors of the Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow Foundation to investigate what many called a mysterious bank transfer from a Hong Kong private bank to a UK Guaranty Trust Bank account, which was traced to Gambia’s First Lady Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, the FREEDOM NEWSPAPER can reveal. The sum of $752,544.42 dollars, which is equivalent to D33 million dalasis was transferred into the First Lady’s UK Guaranty Trust Bank account back in 2017. But the news of the secret transfer is now coming to light. The Board of Directors managing the First Lady’s Foundation said they have no clue about the source of the bank transfer, and the motive behind it. Now the whole country is talking about the secret money transfer from Hong Kong into the First Lady’s account.
“The Board of Directors for the Foundation are looking into the said transfer. We have set up a taskforce to investigate it. The Board is looking into the matter. You have to be patient. Once we finalize our findings, we will get back to you,” Fatou Ceesay, the Vice Chairperson of the Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow Foundation (FABB) told Freedom Radio Gambian in an interview on Thursday.
“I cannot tell you whether it is a normal transaction or not. As far as I know, there is an investigation to probe into the matter. I don’t know where the money is coming from. That is why we set up the investigations. I don’t know whether that is the exact amount or not. I never sat down to do any cost calculation about the dollar or dalasi amount. I don’t remember the exact amount. There is an investigation going on,” Ms. Ceesay added.
Fatou Ceesay FABB’S Vice Chairperson
The FABB Foundation has been registered as a non-profit organization in The Gambia. Its banking information is not accessible to the public.
The Foundation has been engaged in charity work since its formation according to Ms. Ceesay. Though, she doesn’t know the person(s) who must have deposited the $752,544.42 dollars into the account.
A whatsup message containing the said secret transfer to the First Lady’s account, has been making round on social media.
“ Kindly reference below for the “purpose of clarity” or in Gambian street language terms, “kindly come out clean” with the Gambian people, explaining in 2017, this inflow of $752,544.42, over D33 MILLION, almost a MILLION DOLLARS OF WIRED BANK TO BANK TRANSACTION, between TBEA (HONGKONG) CO LIMITED, INDUSTRIAL, COMMERCIAL BANK OF CHINA (ASIA) LIMITED, to the Fatoumatta Bah Barrow Foundation’s GUARANTY TRUST BANK (UK) LIMITED London Bank account? And then an outflow, less $6333 (am assuming bank transfer charges) from the Foundation’s London Bank accounts to a Portugal Bank Account NOVO BANCO, SA (FORMERLY BANCO ESPIRITO SANTO SA) to charter a flight to China?,” the note stated.
Fatou Ceesay told this medium that the FABB Foundation is transparent and accountable. She has no information about the chattered flight mentioned in the whatsapp message regarding the First Lady’s delegation to China.
“I have never known any chattered flight coming from anywhere. I know that the First Lady has been travelling with private class before,” she said.
FABB Foundation hasn’t started filing its annual earnings to Gambia’s Revenue Authority (GRA). Ms. Ceesay said the Foundation was set up barely less two years ago. She assured the public that the Foundation is transparent and accountable.
Lamodo Sey, a Gambian national based in Detroit, was the least satisfied with Fatou Ceesay’s explanation about the secret bank transfer. She believes that the FABB Foundation Board Members are playing hide and seek games with The Gambian public. She notes that such an amount of money cannot be transferred into the First Lady’s account without the recipients knowing about the source of the transfer and the people behind it.
Ms. Sey warns that in the absence of convincing explanation from the First Lady’s Foundation about the source of the funds, speculations will rife about the credibility of the Foundation. She said if the Foundation has nothing to hide, it should come clean on the matter and stop playing games with Gambians.
Ms. Sey is a trained US Banker. She said all banks had put in place tight security to avoid money laundering, fraud, among others. She told Freedom Radio Gambia that if the narrative coming Fatou Ceesay was to go by, the Guaranty Trust Bank branch in the UK, would have frozen the said account associated with the First Lady Fatoumatta Bah Barrow, pending the determination of the source of the transfer, but this never happened.
“I want to believe that these folks have started messing with some of the accounts associated with Yahya Jammeh and were said to be frozen. Anyone can speculate that the funds came from Obiang,” she said, adding that pressure should be mounted on the regime to explain the source of the funds transferred to the First Lady’s account.