Mr. Ismaila Sambou, Board Chair GYCC
The Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce (GYCC) Board of Directors has accused the National Youth Council (NYC) of allegedly covering up fraud that was allegedly committed by the GYCC CEO.
The Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce (GYCC) Board of Directors issued a strongly worded statement to the press, calling out the National Youth Council (NYC) for spreading false information that the GYCC had been suspended.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce, the public is hereby advised to desist from information circulating from the National Youth Council wrongfully informing the public that the Board of the Chamber is being suspended. As well as conveying that any information coming from the CEO (Mr. Baboucarr Kebbeh) does not represent the organization, inclusive of our social media handles, which are currently in possession of the CEO.
“The unfortunate actions of the National Youth Council were meant to protect the CEO (Mr. Baboucarr Kebbeh) who was recently found wanting for fraud, official misconduct, and non-financial compliance transactions, among other scrupulous behaviours. This revelation is confirmed by the recently concluded Audit Reports of 2017 to 2023 of the Chamber, Financial Reviews, and Documents in possession of the Board,” the GYCC Board of Directors said in a statement.
The Board of Directors pledges to use all available means to ensure proper accountability, transparency, good governance, and a fair resolution to their internal problems. The Board also encourages all Chamber members and the public to remain committed to the spirit of private sector development.
“It is of great concern and dismay that a series of misunderstandings has emerged between GYCC and the National Youth Council (NYC), which has been promulgated by the actions of the board in taking disciplinary steps against the CEO (Mr. Baboucarr Kebbeh) of GYCC, for being involved in unclassified expenses of about D2 million Dalasi, loss of revenue to the Chamber worth about D2.4 million (A total sum of D4.4 million). The first step was taken by the Board in putting the CEO under suspension, for onward investigations but the CEO (Mr. Baboucarr Kebbeh) refused to corporate with the investigation process and got to involve NYC, wherein we were invited for a voluntary meeting,” Board said.
The Board stated that during the meeting, they presented all the allegations against Mr. Baboucarr Kebbeh and recommended that he be suspended. However, Mr. Kebbeh pleaded with the Board to cancel the suspension, and they refused.
The Board also said that Mr. Kebbeh has refused to cooperate with any of their recommendations. He has also engaged the management in partnership contracts without the prior review and approval of the Board, even though he has been issued several warnings for over six months.
“A recently Presented Audit Report (2017 – 2022), confirms the earlier mentioned unclassified expenses of D2,051,905 and the Board has evidence of all the other remaining claims. Concerning the promotion of accountability, transparency, and good governance, and on behalf of the members of the chamber the board intends to take disciplinary measures in the management over unhealthy behaviours which may compromise the integrity of the chamber, prior to going for a congress which is scheduled for this year,” the Board revealed.
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The Board further alleged that the CEO (Mr. Baboucarr Kebbeh) authorize the payment of €17,500 as a 50% initial payment of the whole sum of €35,000 / D1,960,000 to a supplier on behaved of the Chamber without following the provisions of our Financial Policy, proper procurement practice, a contractual agreement and the prior knowledge and approval by the Board.
GYCC Board also stated that currently, the supplier has not provided the items for which the money is being paid to him and refuses to refund an upfront 50% payment credited to his account, as a result causing a financial loss worth D2,450,000 to the Chamber.
The Board said there is also evidence of the CEO engaging in contracts on behalf of the Chamber without the prior knowledge, review, and approval of the Board, as well as spending cash on behalf of the Chamber without the due review and approval by the Board Treasurer and the Board by extension.
The GYCC Board said it is due to these reasons coupled with other misconduct that qualifies for immediate disciplinary action against the CEO, which leads to the Board’s intervention in ensuring that due actions are taken.
“It is therefore unfortunate, to have realized that the National Youth Council (NYC) has been anticipating for the dissolve of the GYCC Board in consultation with the minister of Youth and Sports, presumably pursuant to Article 15 of the National Youth Act with powers to act on National Youth Organizations during times of crises.
“It is however important to note that the Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce is not a National Youth Organization, and is duly registered with the Attorney General Chambers and comprises registered businesses with the A.G. Chambers as its members. Therein purely a Private Sector Membership-Based Organization which derives its powers from its members through a General Assembly,” GYCC Board stated.
The Board of the Chamber of Commerce stated that, regardless of the recent scandal, it is essential for the Chamber to have a positive working relationship with all relevant institutions in the private sector and the youth domain, including the National Youth Council. The Board also expressed its intention to normalize its relations with the Chamber’s management in the best interests of young people in the private sector.
“As a result of these undesirable circumstances which may affect the youth in the private sector fraternity, we deem it swiftly necessary to engage the National Assembly in helping to address this menace which requires an urgent attention before the situation aggravates to a higher gravity,” the Board said in a statement.
In response to the allegations levelled against them, the Executive Director of the National Youth Council (NYC) Mr. Alhaji Jarju said the allegations made against his organization were false.
Mr. Jarju said that when the problem started between the two parties of the GYCC, as the body responsible for the youth, they decided to bring them together to solve the problem.
“In our quest to solve the problem, we agreed on a few things, including having an audit. So, at the Board, they have an auditor, and the auditor is currently doing his work. The auditor has not even submitted his final report. So where an auditor has not submitted his final, I don’t know how someone can claim that someone is covering up fraud where an auditor has not even submitted a final report.
“The auditor is hired by GYCC. The auditor has only submitted a preliminary report, not the final report, and the management has responded to that report. We are now waiting for the final report, which is not submitted yet. So I now wonder how can one cover fraud when you don’t even have the final report,” Mr. Jarju said.