Posted - 19 Jan 2021 : 11:33:14
Investors who do not invest: How they Access State House, Lands, Diplomatic Passports and Love
BY MUSTAPHA K DARBOE
Malagan: JANUARY 17, 2021
Riding on the wave of privileges – including dining with the president – that a Third World country tends to accord to foreign investors, the European nationals have gained rare access to State House, obtained diplomatic passports through dubious means, attempted to appropriate huge swath of land from locals who have not been compensated and some of them even found love and got married
When Mansa Sumareh met Andreas Brandl Helmut to receive a Samsung Galaxy S10 mobile phone presented as ‘gifts’ to him and several close aides at the presidency, he could not but feel that the ‘foreign investor’ had a much larger gift – an investment for a country reeling from near economic collapse.
As an official driver at the State House, Mansa was a witness to the VIP treatment accorded to Mr Brandl and his colleagues – a number of them carrying nationalities of Europe’s largest economy, Germany. The five men were received at the airport by officials of the presidency and driven on State House vehicles to Coco Ocean, a posh hotel renowned for hosting high-profile guests, including visiting heads of state.
“We all felt excited,” the former presidential driver told Malagen. “Protocol officers, Henry Gomez [adviser to the president] – all of us were given a phone Samsung Galaxy S10. They also gave a mobile phone and a laptop to the president, through Henry.”
But it has been more than one year since that encounter and European investors seem to have no investment to show yet, despite ‘planning’ to inject a whopping US$6 billion, an amount six-fold the country’s gross domestic product.
Mansa Sumareh though, has fallen out with the presidency. He is currently in trouble with the law for his alleged role in facilitating issuance of diplomatic passports to ‘unauthorised’ individuals. The scandal which erupted in 2019 exposed how politicians and public officials indiscriminately – and illegally – issued diplomatic passports in exchange for money and political favours.
Curiously, one of the witnesses lined up by the state to testify against the former presidential driver is Rene Schwarze, who claims to be an investor and bringer of investors. He has been indicted in the passport fraud scandal and briefly detained by police, but the authorities did not charge him to court.
“If they charge Rene to court, they would charge a lot of other people. He knows too much,” said Sumareh.
In four years of his operations here, Rene has registered at least six companies with similar business focus and brought in at least three different but related groups of investors none of whom have ever made any tangible investment in the country. He appears to be in it with a woman identified as his mother, Birgit Bresser, who claims to be a faith healer, healing cancer, HIV and other forms of illnesses.
Both are married to Gambians.
Investigations by Malagen have uncovered disturbing details about the activities, here and abroad, of these so-called foreign investors whose tracks bear significant hallmarks of an international investment fraud enterprise. Some of them have been subjects of newspaper and police investigations linking them to crime and corruption in many other places, including Germany, Austria and Italy in Europe and Guinea Bissau in West Africa.
Riding on the wave of privileges – including dining with the president – that a Third World country tends to grant to foreign investors, they have gained rare access to State House, obtained diplomatic passports through dubious means, attempted to appropriate huge swath of land from locals who have not been compensated and some of them even found love and got married.
Who is who
From Bissau to Banjul
Malagen Investigations revealed that the foreign investors led by Brandl had been operating in Guinea Bissau for years before coming to The Gambia. The story of their suspicious activities in that country and in Germany was unraveled by two newspapers, O Democrata, a Bissau investigative newspaper and Der Spiegel, a German newsmagazine – one of the most widely circulated in Europe.
According to the two publications, Brandl and his team have paid huge sums of money to get diplomatic passports in Bissau. Several of them were appointed as ambassador at large. Brandl was given citizenship and designated as special adviser to the prime minister of Bissau.
But on May 7, 2019, a woman had appeared in the security line at the Frankfurt airport. Upon inspection, a stack of identity documents was found in her luggage. When federal police sought to examine the documents, Andreas Brandl intervened, pulling out a diplomatic passport identifying him as a “special adviser” for Guinea-Bissau. The stack of documents, he claimed, were to be brought to the country’s embassy in Berlin. However, the police have found that the documents are intended for people who were allegedly involved in criminal activities, including drug-related violations, document forgery and insurance fraud.
Read the rest here: https://malagen.com/investigations/investors-who-do-not-invest-how-they-access-state-house-lands-diplomatic-passports-and-love/
A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone