The US has sanctioned former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who is accused of looting at least $50m (£37m) of state funds before leaving office last January.
He only agreed to leave power after losing elections following pressure from West African mediators who sent troops in the country to force his hand.
He is now living in exile in Equatorial Guinea.
A US Treasury statement said that during his 22 years in power he had a “history of engaging in serious human rights abuses and corruption”.
Jammeh created a terror and assassination squad called the Junglers that answered directly to him. Jammeh used the Junglers to threaten, terrorise, interrogate, and kill individuals whom Jammeh assessed to be threats.
During his tenure, Jammeh used a number of corrupt schemes to plunder The Gambia’s state coffers or otherwise siphon off state funds for his personal gain. Ongoing investigations continue to reveal Jammeh’s large-scale theft from state coffers prior to his departure.”
Mr Jammeh is among a host of world figures blacklisted by the President Donald Trump’s administration, including a business associate of Congolese President Joseph Kabila and an aide to South Sudan’s leader Salva Kiir.
Those targeted with links to Africa are:
- Dan Gertler – an Israeli businessman accused of amassing his fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gertler has used his close friendship with DR Congo President Joseph Kabila to act as a middleman for mining asset sales… As a result, between 2010 and 2012 alone, the DRC reportedly lost over $1.36bn in revenues from the underpricing of mining assets that were sold to offshore companies linked to Gertler.”
- Slobodan Tesic – a Balkan arms dealer who violated UN sanctions against arms exports to Liberia.
In order to secure arms contracts with various countries, Tesic would directly or indirectly provide bribes and financial assistance to officials… took potential clients on high-value vacations, paid for their children’s education at Western schools or universities, and used large bribes to secure contracts.”
- Benjamin Bol Mel – head of a construction firm AMBC, financial adviser and aide to South Sudan’s president and chairman of the country’s chamber of commerce accused of using his political position to make money.
ABMC allegedly received preferential treatment from high-level officials, and the government of South Sudan did not hold a competitive process for selecting ABMC to do roadwork on several roads in Juba and throughout South Sudan. Although this roadwork had been completed only a few years before, the government budgeted tens of millions of dollars more for maintenance of the same roads.”
- Yankuba Badjie – former head of Gambia’s feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) who is accused of overseeing abuses. He was arrested after Mr Jammeh went into exile.
In April 2016, Badjie oversaw the detention and murder of Solo Sandeng, a member of the political opposition. In February 2017, Badjie was charged along with eight subordinates with Sandeng’s murder. Prior to becoming a member of the NIA’s senior leadership, Badjie led a paramilitary group known as the Junglers to the NIA’s headquarters to beat a prisoner for approximately three hours, leaving the prisoner unconscious and with broken hands. The following day, Badjie and the Junglers returned to beat the prisoner again, leaving him on the verge of death.”
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained the new policy, saying the US wanted to take “a strong stand against human rights abuse and corruption globally by shutting these bad actors out of the US financial system.
“Treasury is freezing their assets and publicly denouncing the egregious acts they’ve committed, sending a message that there is a steep price to pay for their misdeeds.”
*Culled from BBC