Yahya Jammeh, who fled the country after being forced to step down in January, also had 86 bank accounts and 131 properties linked to him seized by the state.

Gambian president Yahya Jammeh (L) speaks with his wife, Zeineb Souma Jammeh.
Gambian president Yahya Jammeh (L) speaks with his wife, Zeineb Souma Jammeh.

Gambia's ex-leader Yahya Jammeh stole more than $50 million from a state telecoms company, the Justice Minister said on Monday.

An investigation into the veteran ruler's wealth has been gathering pace amid accusations from the new government against Jammeh of massive fraud including siphoning off public money during his 22-year rule.

"President Yahya Jammeh personally or under his instructions directed the unlawful withdrawal of at least $50 million," said Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou.

"We have today obtained a court order freezing or placing a temporary hold on the known assets in the country of former President Yahya Jammeh and companies directly associated with him," he added.

Meanwhile, Gambian authorities seized assets including 86 bank accounts and 131 properties linked to Jammeh.

"The government has obtained a court order to freeze and place temporary hold on all of Jammeh's known assets and companies directly linked to him," the justice minister said.

Fourteen companies in the name of Jammeh or his company KGI were taken over, while livestock and cars belonging to Jammeh were also seized.

Gambia's solicitor general said a commission of inquiry would be set up next month to decide the fate of the assets, Solicitor General Cherno Marenah told Reuters.

Jammeh, who was in office since he led the coup in 1994, lost the elections in December 2016. But he refused to step down and declared a state of emergency in January.

Later, under the military threat of the African Union and the West African regional body ECOWAS, he agreed to step down, and left the country in January 2017.

Jammeh has been out of contact since leaving for exile and his associates no longer respond to journalists' queries about the accusations against him.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies