Speaking in a phone conversation with this reporter, Ms. Ramou Loppy Ceesay, the former Landlady of Bamba Mass, a Gambian Diplomat at The Gambian High Commission in London, UK, said The Gambian mission owes her nearly ten thousand pounds sterling (£10,000). The (£10,000) represents unpaid rent owed to her by Mission. Bamba Mass, a Protocol and Welfare Officer at The Gambian Mission had prematurely terminated his lease agreement with Ms. Ceesay thereby leaving an unpaid rent behind. Mass had entered into three years rental contractual agreement with his Landlady Ramou Ceesay.
Ms. Ceesay had earlier promised to grant us an interview, but she later changed her mind. She said she was advised by her Lawyer to wait until The Gambian government finish its investigation into the Embassy financial scandal matter before talking to press.
Below is the transcribed Wolof conversation I had with Ms. Ramou Loppy Ceesay. Please read on…
Bamba Mass has scammed me big time. The Embassy owed me nearly ten thousand pounds sterling (£10,000). I do not know Bamba Mass. I was introduced to him by Imam Sarr. I was talking to the Imam and I told him that I wanted to rent my home upon my return from my upcoming Banjul trip. The Imam spoke highly of him. He even vouched on his behalf. He told me that he lives in Birmingham and was appointed to work at The Gambian mission in London.
Bamba had offered to pay his rent every three months. He said the Embassy was going to pay for his rent. He came with one girl Yama Fatajo. She was the witnessed to the signing of the lease agreement. They signed; I also signed. I gave him the house key and they left. I was paid for the first three months of the rent.
Bamba then told me that the payment would be done through check. That once the check is cleared, he would deposit the rent payment to my account.
I blew the whistle to the Embassy. If it was not me, they wouldn’t have known what happened. He had lived in the property for one year. He paid me for three months.
While on holidays in Banjul, Bamba Mass telephoned me, and told me that he had fought with Yama Fatajo. He said Yama even called the police on him. I told him that I was on vacation and I have no business with his problems with Yama. I also told him that I was on vacation and wasn’t interested in his story. Initially, he told me, that he was going to stay in the property with his family.
The second payment was supposed to be made in January but was delayed until February. He said there was some sort of delay from Banjul. I was paid on February 6th. Before the payment was made, Bamba told me, that the Embassy now wants to make all payments direct to my bank account. That the Embassy would prefer to pay the rent into my account than issuing a check. He asked for my banking details. I was bit suspicious. I later gave him my banking details. He had my account details before his second request.
I gave him my account details. He told me that the embassy was going to pay one thousand six hundred pounds (£1,600.00) for the rent . He also asked me, to deposit two hundred pounds (£200.00) into his kid’s account. He texted me. I rented the property to him for one thousand four hundred pounds (£1,400.00). I do not know how came up with the one thousand six hundred pounds (£1,600.00) rent. I suspected that he had overcharged the embassy.
I told him that I normally declare my earnings. I also told him let stick to the one thousand four hundred (£1,400.00) rent agreement.
Bamba later opted to terminate the lease. He breached the rental contractual agreement. We had a three years rental agreement. Bamba left the property without paying his outstanding rent. He later blocked me on his phone.
The Protocol and Welfare Officer at The Gambian High Commission in the United Kingdom has been accused of stealing twenty thousand pounds sterling from The Gambian government, Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Bamba Mass, a onetime supporter of Ousainou Darboe’s United Democratic Party, was able to defraud the High Commission by falsifying rental contractual documents; overstating rent payments, fake receipts; fake invoices, subletting his Diplomatic House to three women based in the UK, among other dubious schemes. Mass had also allegedly defrauded the UK Government by allowing his tenants to use his government rented property without paying council tax to the British authorities. Mass has been exempted from paying council tax because of his diplomatic status, but his three female tenants weren’t exempted.
Gambia’s Internal Audit Department had audited the accounts of The Gambian High Commission. The audit exercise covers from January 2018 to November 2019. The audit report, which indicted Bamba Mass for grand theft, abuse of office, falsification of official documents was submitted to the Barrow government on January 25th, 2020.
The Auditors observations reads: “ During review of contract files, payments vouchers, and other supporting documents presented to the audit team, we noted the following anomalies carried out were by Bamba Mass, Protocol Officer, surrounding his official accommodation: Falsification of contract documents thereby misleading the Mission. Review of rent contracts files, payment vouchers and other information gathered by the audit team revealed that Mr. Bamba Mass signed a rent contract document with a Landlady name Mrs. Ramou Ceesay for a 3 (three) bedroom property located at 72 Harrow Road, East Ham, in London. The rental amount for this property was at a rate of £1,400.00 (One thousand and Four Hundred British Pounds Sterling, (GBP) per month. However, we noted thar Mr. Bamba Mass did not present this sad contract to the High Commission but instead presented a falsified contract using the same property address as above but at a rate of £1,600.00 (One thousand Six Hundred British Pounds Sterling per month signed by Ms. Marima Fatajo Jammeh, who falsely claimed to be the Landlady.”
When Bamba Mass and his fake Landlady Mariama Fatajo Jammeh were interviewed by the auditors, the duo had confessed to have falsified the rent contractual agreement Mass presented to the High Commission. Ms. Mariama Fatajo Jammeh was Bamba Mass’s front woman to steal money from the High Commission.
“Both Mr. Bamba Mass and Mariama Fatajo Jammeh informed the audit team in the presence of the Deputy Head of Mission and the Finance attaché that the contract Mr. Bamba Mass presented to the High Commission was false and it was intended to mislead the Mission to pay £200.00 (Two Hundred Pounds Sterling) more than the actual contractual agreement,” said the auditors.
Bamba Mass had an arraignment with Mariama Fatajo Jammeh. She was required to give Mass the £200.00 excess from his monthly rent money, which was paid for by the High Commission. In three years, Bamba Mass had stolen £7,200 from the High Commission.
“As evident in appendix 3 and appendix 4, the Mission was paying £1,600 per month to Mariama Fatajo Jammeh base on the falsified contract presented by Mr. Bamba Mass. Documentary evidence presented to the audit team together with an interview with both Bamba Mass and Mariama Fatajo Jammeh in the presence of the Finance Attaché and the Deputy Head of Mission shows that Mrs. Jammeh transfers only £1,400 to Mrs. Ramou Ceesay (the rightful owner of the property) upon receipt of payment from the Embassy. The remaining £200.00 is paid to Bamba Mass as instructed by him,” the audit report revealed.
The auditors also found that Diplomat Bamba Mass had been subletting his government allocated property. He had rented the property to three different women including Ms. Mariama Fatajo Jammeh, who had falsely posed as his Landlady.
“Therefore, the total amount collected by Mr. Bamba Mass from Mrs. Jammeh from a government rented residence amounted to £1,600.00. This includes the £1,000.00 collected as deposit and ten months rented payment for the duration Ms. Jammeh stayed in the property,” the investigators revealed.
“Information gathered during the engagement revealed that Mr. Bamba Mass had rented part of his government rented residence to other tenants and collected revenue from them for his personal use. Documentary evidence provided by Ms. Mariama Fatajo Jammeh, a tenant and a Tanzanian lady called Amina shows payment made from their bank accounts to Mr. Bamba Mass’s bank account in respect of their rent payments to him,” said the auditors.
The third woman tenant at Mr. Mass’s residence was one Mrs. Laila. She said she made her first rent payment to Mass in cash. Over one million pounds sterling was embezzled from the Embassy.
“Mrs. Laila informed us the audit team that she moved into the property on the 9th December 2018 at an agreed rental amount of £350.00 per month with Mr. Bamba Mass. According to her, she made her first payment of £350.00 to Mr. Mass in cash on the 9th of December 2018. The second payments representing the months of January and February were paid in cash, but the March and April payments were through bank transfer from her account to Mr. Bamba Mass’s account as shown in appendix 6,” the audit report stated.
Bamba Mass had also defrauded the Embassy by falsely claiming that he had paid his Landlady a rental deposit of £800.00. He asked for a refund and the Embassy had to reimburse him for his expenses.
“Mr. Mass has claimed for refund of £800.00 as deposit he paid in respect of his accommodation. Interview with the Landlady and a subsequent meeting between the audit team, Mr. Mass himself, the Deputy Head of Mission, Ms. Jammeh and the Finance Attaché has revealed that Mr. Mass did not pay the deposit he claimed thereby diverting government funds for personal use. Mr. Mass previously denied not paying the £800.00 but only decided to tell the truth following the presentation of nonpayment during the meeting,” the Audit report stated.
“We noted that Mr. Bamba Mass was paid on the 6th August 2018 a total amount of £5,585.00 as refund for rent payments for the period November to March at a rate of £1,000.00 per month and £1,600.00 for the month of April. See Appendix 9. We noted that the claims for refund were made without a tenancy agreement and valid receipts. Only invoices were issued which did not have a business name, business address, contact details and the other relevant information. In addition, we noted forgery of signatures on the invoices which were confirmed by Bamba Mass. An example is the signatures by the same person in the other documents reviewed by the audit team. See appendix 10 and 11,” the auditors added.
Bamba Mass had also asked the Embassy to refund him for his expenses in paying his rent at his Birmingham home address. He was living in that property before the change of government in December of 2016. The Kibaaro online Newspaper was registered in that home address, the auditors said.
“A further review has revealed that the first claim of £5,000.00 for the months of November to March was for a property located at Birmingham, West of Midlands. Mr. Mass informed the audit team during an interview that he has lived in that property for several years prior to his appointment as a Protocol Officer at The Gambian High Commission in London. We also noted that the property is the address of the online media newspaper, the Kibaaro Newspaper, where he is an Executive member,” said the auditors.
Bamba Mass had also asked the Embassy to pay for his stay at the home of Ousman Minteh in London. Minteh used to host him during the week and over the weekend he would travel to Birmingham to see his family.
“Finally, Mr. Mass has acknowledged that he was not commuting to London for work from the said residence in Birmingham but instead stayed with friends during the week in London and visits his family in Birmingham during the weekend. In addition, we have gathered information that he stayed with a friend Ousman Minteh in his bedroom during the month of April 2018. However, evidence has shown that he had claimed rent for the same month amounting to £1,600.00 for a four-bedroom house in the same address he lodged by Mr. Ousman Minteh. See appendix 12. Based on the above findings, we conclude that Mr. Bamba Mass’s claims were not genuine and were supported by falsified documents with the intention of committing fraud,” the audit report revealed.
The auditors had also found different signatures from Bamba Mass, in which Mass claimed a refund of payment of rent from one Mrs. Deyna.
Mass had also defrauded the British Home office by allowing tenants to us his property without paying Council Tax. Mass as a Diplomat has been exempted from paying Council Tax because of his Diplomat status.
“Mr. Bamba Mass was issued an exception for the payment of council tax on the above mention property based on his status as a foreign diplomat. However, the other tenants residing in the property and paying rent to him were ordinary people, who were not covered by the council tax exception,” said the auditors.
The auditors had recommended to The Gambian government to take disciplinary action against Bamba Mass. Mass still works at The Gambian High Commission in the UK.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Email: [email protected]
Below is the Audit report. Please read on….