By: Binta Bah
Mr. Karamba Touray, the Auditor General recently appeared before the Janneh Commission in connection to an audit exercise carried out by his office on the Daily Observer newspaper company.
According to him, the audit exercise on observer’s books came as a request from the office of former President Jammeh through a letter dated 4th June, 2015. He confirmed that the audit was conducted and he was in possession of the file and the audit report as well.
At that juncture, a copy of the file from the National Audit Office (NAO), including a letter of engagement between the company and the National Audit Office were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
Mr. Touray testified that they were tasked to audit the company from July 2010-31st July, 2015, noting that they were able to establish the original owners of the company but then it was not registered. According to Mr. Touray, among their main findings were the inability to establish the ownership of the company because it was not registered before it was sold but the original owners were Kenneth Y. Best and Lawyer Ida Drammeh. He said tax liabilities and social corporate responsibilities and staff loans were not paid, adding that they also discovered that some payments could not be justified, as they were not supported with documents.
At that juncture, Commissioner Saine told him that as chief of national audit, they are allowed to audit public institutions and not private firms. However Touray responded that where the government has minor interest, they would conduct an audit. He told the commission that they could not establish who purchased the company from the original owners, noting that appointment of staff usually came from the Office of the former President. He stated further that the company should be sold in a public auction, further stating that he did not consider the company to be a public enterprise. On how they came to know that the “Daily Observer” was not registered, he said they consulted the Attorney General’s Chambers and were told that the company was not registered.