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‘Yahya Jammeh’: The Self-proclaimed AIDS Healer, 23 Years in Power, $1 Billion Hijacked

This is a damning report that the consortium of journalists OCCRP (Organized crime and corruption reporting project) made public on April 26. The content is based on a major investigation into the embezzlement system set up by former President Yahya Jammeh, who has been exiled since 2017 in Equatorial Guinea . According to the document obtained by Jeune Afrique, the former Gambian president has diverted about $ 1 billion (or  € 835 million as of December 31, 2017) during his 23 years as head of this small country. West Africa (1994-2017).

Self-proclaimed AIDS healer, owner of a domain housing exotic animals, a military training camp or many luxury cars … The reign of this former former soldier was marked by the opulence of his lifestyle , the development of public infrastructures, but also the severe and increasing repression of all forms of protest. Several NGOs are now fighting for a trial to try crimes committed under his regime.

A network that far exceeds the accusations of President Barrow

In this state of 2 million people, the finances are in the red: the debt of the country reached $ 489 million at the end of 2017, according to the World Bank, and the central bank is in debt up to 130 % of GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

Thanks to the consolidation of tens of thousands of documents (government correspondence, contracts, bank registrations, internal investigations), the OCCRP has been able to establish the existence of an “organized fraud network that goes far beyond the accusations of President Barrow”. The current head of state has indeed publicly estimated that his predecessor would be responsible for 90 million dollars of misappropriation.

The hijacked funds flowed through bank accounts held by companies with lucrative contracts from the former manager. Those who refused to use these practices were forced into silence “by force or threat,” according to the ORRCP survey.

Foreign businessmen involved

Yahya Jammeh is also reported to have won the support of foreign businessmen, such as the Lebanese Mohammed Bazzi, financial manager of Hezbollah, who according to the ORRCP was used as an intermediary by the Gambian leader to transfer funds through the public company Gamtel, on which he would have obtained commissions.

The Gambian president was also reportedly assisted by two Romanian businessmen, Nicolae and Dragos Buzaianu, with whom he would have arrogated a monopoly on timber exports from The Gambia, using his military power to arrest all potential competitors. to position oneself in this sector. 
Jammeh also reportedly embezzled 100 million dollars sent by Taiwan in aid to The Gambia after its recognition in 1995 of the independence of the island claimed by Beijing.

Recluse in Equatorial Guinea

If the current Gambian political power has not yet expressed itself on the contents of this investigation, the extradition of Yahya Jammeh with a view to its possible trial will not be able to intervene as long as it will benefit from the protection of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo , the president of Equatorial Guinea.

Since her forced withdrawal from public life in January 2017, Yahya Jammeh has been living on a farm in the province of Wele-Nzas, Equatorial Guinea. He has never spoken in public since, as the Equatorial Guinean president told him, who promised him that he would not be extradited.

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