Britain is willing to support the Gambia government to track down former President Yahya Jammeh’s stolen loot.
Jammeh, who was forced to relinquish power after an electoral defeat, had run national coffers dry. The scale of Jammeh’s looting as much bigger than previously anticipated. The lavish former leader left over $1 billion debt hanging over the Gambia’s head. This left the new government that took over little over a month in an unfortunate situation.
But Britain’s Shadow Minister for Africa, offered how his country could help the Gambia. In a response to a question by Parliamentarian Liz McInnes on what steps the British government are taking to help track down the Gambia’s missing assets, including any that might have ended up in the UK. Concern was also raised about how any of the proceeds would be returned to the Gambia without delay.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told MPs that “President Barrow has indicated that he would like the UK to be the Gambia
s principal partner of choice in tackling corruption in that country and putting the Gambia back on an even keel.We are doing everything we can to support the Gambias judicial system.”
Johnson explained the joyous mood he had found in the former British colony. “When I recently visited the Gambia, there were crowds in the streets dancing because they were delighted that the Gambia was being welcome back into the Commonwealth. I can say that their joy was unconfined,” Johnson said.
Ms McInnes also applauded the positive political development in the Gambia. “I’m sure the whole House will welcome the recent political development in the Gambia. The authorities are already investigating allegations that the former President smuggled millions of dollars worth of assets out of the country before his departure.”
The Gambia’s Scotland-based activist of the Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia (CHRG-UK) welcomed Britain’s generous offer. “We will seek cross party support in the House of Commons (Parliament) to ensure that these stolen assets are returned to the people of the Gambia,” Alieu Badara Ceesay said. Mr. Ceesay is upbeat that all those involved in the theft will be pursued with their ill-gotten wealth.
The government of United Kingdom recently tabled in Parliament a motion aimed at halting “blood stained dictators” and despots like Yahya Jammeh from laundering their money through the UK. The bill gives the government the power to freeze their assets.
The government’s proposal sought to amend the Criminal Finances Bill and expand the scope of proceeds of Crime Act of 2002 to include instances of gross human rights abuses and violations.
“This measure will send a clear statement that the UK will not stand by and allow those who have committed gross abuse or violations around the world to launder their money here,” warned Britain’s Security Minister Ben Wallace.