After having survived a stroke attack back in 2012, amid an ailing health condition, Banjul born Insurance broker Bai Ndongo Faal, is also faced with potential liquidation of his businesses, as the Gambian state have already taken over his Gam-Savings financial institution, which was declared insolvent by the Central Bank of the Gambia (CBG), during dictator Yahya Jammeh’s rule, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Gam-Savings was founded by Mr. Faal in 2002. It is a microfinance company, which normally give loans to low income Gambians interested in starting a small-scale business.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Freedom Newspaper on Wednesday, a frustrated Bai Ndongo Faal, explained how the Gambian state, through the Central Bank of the Gambia, took over his Gam-Savings company. Faal notes that the entire process of declaring his company insolvent by the Central Bank Executives was flawed. He accused Saikou Jabbi, the Bank’s First Deputy Governor and one Bai Senghore of witch hunt and harboring a personal vendetta against him (Faal) and his Gam-Savings company.
“Saikou Jabbi and Bai Senghore are bunch of liars. They have been lying against me, and my company. They were out to get me. They had a personal vendetta against me. Jabbi is a big liar. He has been fabricating reports against my company; saying it is not safe for Gam-Savings to be allowed to stay in business,” a ragging Bai Ndongo Faal alleged.
Bai Ndongo Faal’s problems with the Central Bank started during Jammeh’s rule. He couldn’t meet a new depository regulation that was put in place by the former regime—requiring microfinance companies such as his Gam-Savings company to provide a deposit of D10 million before they could be allowed to operate. The collateral deposit was increased from D500,000 dalasis to D10 million dalasis, Faal tells this medium.
Faal, was faced with the option of either closing his Gam-Savings business or borrowing money from the bank to meet the D10 million new depository rule initiated by the erstwhile Jammeh regime.
The Central Bank had already informed him that he risked having his company liquidated due to insufficient funds to cater for his customers financial needs. But Faal thinks that there was more to the Central Bank’s intervention.
“These people were on a witch hunting. They increased the capital from D500,000 dalasis to D10 million dalasis. During that period, we were trying to raise the D10 million dalasis. They put the company on prescription. I had D6 million dalasis at Ecobank at the time. They blocked the account. For nine months, they have blocked my account,” Faal lamented.
“In the end, I couldn’t access the funds. I told them that this thing is not sustainable. Let close the company. I wrote them several letters and I can give you the evidence to that effect. Despite efforts to engage them with the view of closing the company, they refused to respond to my invitation,” he added.
Mr. Faal wants the Gambian government to lift the blockage imposed on his account at Ecobank, so that he can move his funds. He accused the regime of frustrating entrepreneurs such as him, to operate business in the country.
Saikou Jabbi was appointed liquidator to oversee the closing of Gam-Savings. Mr. Faal said throughout the liquidation process, he was completely sidelined by Jabbi and his staff. This, he said, has undermined the credibility of the liquidation process.
“Then in 2010, I wrote them again, requesting for an audience so that we can sort out all these problems. I was scheduled for a meeting at the bank at 1:00 o’clock. At 12 o’clock, while going to the Central Bank to attend the meeting, I received a letter from the Central Bank stating that they have revoked the license that was issued to Gam-Savings,” Faal remarked.
“The company was not in distress; we were paying out salaries; giving out loan; they were just lying. In the end, they decided to take over the company. They appointed Saikou Jabbi, who is now the Deputy Governor, as the liquidator. That Deputy Governor has been lying against me, and Gam-Savings. He has been writing reports lying against my company. He said the company is not been run in a safe manner, which is a lie. The company was never in distress,” he further alleged.
Mr. Jabbi and his staff had to ensure that customers funds were protected. They asked Faal to hire an auditing firm to audit the books. Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh’s auditing company was hired by Faal to audit his company to see if there were any discrepancies. Mr. Sanneh was paid D35,000 dalasis to audit Faal’s company. The auditing of Gam-Savings happened during dictator Jammeh’s rule, Faal said.
“After all that, they called me, to the Central Bank and told me, that they over paid D9.1 million dalasis. They paraded very junior staff of the Bank before me, to tell me that they over paid my customers. I told them to go hell and I walked out. If you don’t consult me, you will overpay of course,” Faal said.
I had stroke since 2012. I was in Dakar, having my treatment; they sued me; They said there were discrepancies of D9.1 million dalasis,” he added.
According to Faal, the Central Bank lost the lawsuit it filed against him. He vowed that he is not going to pay the Gambian state a dime.
“I am not going to pay a dime. I owe them nothing. Jabbi, personally withdrew cash from our account to pay customers. They never check the ledger. They were doing things on their own. I was never consulted either,” he added.
Mr. Faal also debunked claims allegedly made by Mr. Jabbi that he was operating Gam-Savings without Board of Directors. He maintains that Jabbi’s goal was to send him out of business and was allegedly making up stories against him.
“He also lied in his report that we do not have a board of Directors for the company, which is a lie. Uncle Pa Cham was the Chairman of the Company; the Chairman of the Board of Directors; Juka Jabang, was a member of the Board; you can ask her, whether she was not a member of that Board. Now it was Saikou Jabbi to be the liquidator. How can you appoint a staffer of the Central Bank to be the liquidator,?” Faal asked.
Mr. Faal had a long history of having issues with the Central Bank. He said he was once told by the sacked former Deputy Governor Basiru Njie that it was not right for him to be running two companies at the same time. He even had to close his life Insurance company because of Mr. Njie’s remarks.
Bai Ndongo Faal is also the proprietor of Gamstar, one of the oldest Insurance companies in the Gambia. He said the Central Bank is also targeting Gamstar for possible closure. He said he was told by the Bank that he risked having Gamstar closed if he doesn’t provide a collateral of D20 million dalasi into his account. Faal had to loan D15 million dalasi from one of the banks in the Gambia to salvage Gamstar. But notwithstanding, Faal said, the Bank is still threatening to close Gamstar.
Gamstar has 50 staff on its payroll, while the defunct Gam-Savings company employed 80 Gambians prior to its closure, according to Mr. Faal. Faal told the Freedom Newspaper that he is being unfairly targeted by the Gambian state. He said he has invested over D41 million dalasis in the Gambia, since he started business.
Mr. Saikou Jabbi and the people implicated in Mr. Faal’s interview could not be reached for comment.