The Gambia's former leader Yahya Jammeh stole funds destined to a humanitarian organisation he funded, an investigation by news agency Reuters has claimed. The report alleged more than $8m (£6.3m) was paid into a Trust Bank dollar account in the name of Jammeh between 2012 and 2013.
It is not clear whether donors were aware that the former leader was allegedly using their money to fund his lavish lifestyle.
Modou Lamin Manga, former deputy CEO of Jammeh Foundation for Peace, said he became aware of the existence of the dollar account and the deposits when Trust Bank accidentally sent him some statements in 2013.
He then claimed officials at Trust Bank Ltd told him not to touch the money as the dollar account was "Yahya's" account.
The dollar account was one of the two Trust Bank accounts held in the foundation's name during Manga's tenure from 2010 to 2015.
Edward Gomez, Jammeh's lawyer until January, said he was unaware of any misspending by Jammeh. "I know that many people have benefited from the foundation but I can't say where the money came from and who had access to it," he said.
The foundation could not be reached for comments.
The investigation comes weeks after Gambia's new administration – headed by President Adama Barrow – accused Jammeh of stealing millions of Gambian Dalasi.
On 23 January, Barrow's top adviser, Mai Ahmad Fatty – now the country's interior minister – confirmed to IBTimes UK that Jammeh had withdrawn "about $10m, which amounts to about 500m of Gambian Dalasi in the last two weeks". He also said the state coffers were "virtually empty".
However, Barrow's spokesperson, Halifa Sallah, later denied the claims, saying that further investigation was needed.
Jammeh, who had taken power in a bloodless coup in 1994, ruled Gambia for 22 years, until he lost to Barrow in an historic presidential election held in December 2016.
However, Jammeh's initial refusal to step down sparked a political crisis and a foreign military intervention that prompted Barrow – along with thousands of fleeing Gambians – to relocate temporarily to neighbouring Senegal amid fears of an imminent war.
Following week-long diplomatic talks that saw the involvement of several West African leaders and the deployment of Ecowas (Economic Community Of West African States) troops to Gambia's capital Banjul, Jammeh agreed to step down and go into exile to Equatorial Guinea.