Forfeited U.S Property – How Yahya Jammeh Escaped an Embarrassing Litigation
Yahya Jammeh never fought to retain “his” house at 9908 Bentcross Potomac in the United States. Instead, Jammeh opted to remain silent in the comfort of his hideout in Equatorial Guinea. This way, he could avoid the embarrassment of court litigation that would expose how he dubiously acquired the disputed multi-million dollar U.S property.
Jammeh’s pattern of not fighting lost cases
But Yahya Jammeh’s conduct, in this case, is a déjà-vu pattern. When served by the Janneh Commission looking into his assets, Yahya Jammeh ignored the summons and walled himself in silence. The Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission understood the pattern and simply spared its energy by not serving him.
In February 2021, the U.S. Department of State requested Assistance to the Central Authority of Equatorial Guinea from the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Office of International Affairs.
The U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Susan N. Stevenson, delivered the Request documents for Yahya Jammeh and Zeineb Jammeh to the Minister of Justice of Equatorial Guinea in May 2021.
The U.S Justice Department documents served to the Jammeh’s, via the Equatorial Guinea Minister of Justice, were essentially a notice of the commencement of the civil forfeiture action by the U.S. District Court of Maryland against Yahya Jammeh and his wife’s property of six-bedroom, nine-bathroom home at 9908 Bentcross Drive, Potomac.
According to a recent Long and Foster real estate listing, the mansion in the exclusive Falconhurst neighborhood has a heated pool, cabana/guest house, and a seven-car garage. Records differ, but the home occupies either 8,800 or 11,000 square feet.
U.S Ambassador in Equatorial Guinea, Susan N. Stevenson, further took the trouble to hand over the U.S Justice Department Assistance Request to multiple government officials in Equatorial Guinea. This way, she would ensure Yahya Jammeh and his wife are correctly served and can take advantage of their rights to litigate ownership of the Potomac mansion.
In doing so, the U.S judiciary authorities made sure that they did not violate Yahya Jammeh and his wife’s rights. At the same time, the U.S. District Court of Maryland fulfilled the requirements of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
The Mongomo coverup, Jammeh choose silence over U.S Justice embarrassment
In July 2021, the President of Equatorial Guinea told Ambassador Stevenson that his government sent the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Office of International Affairs documents to the Yahya Jammehs’ residence in Equatorial Guinea.
Strangely, the Equatorial Guinea Minister of Justice later told U.S Ambassador Susan N. Stevenson that his ministry had been unable to locate Yahya Jammeh and his wife in Equatorial Guinea.
The Equatorial Guinea Minister of Justice then “advised” Ambassador Susan N. Stevenson that the case in the U.S Maryland court against Yahya Jammeh and his wife should proceed.
According to the E.Guinea minister, the U.S Justice Department should understand that the Governments of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and the United States had made “good faith efforts” to advise Yahya Jammeh and his wife Zineb Jammeh of the complaint against them concerning the Potomac mansion.
Straightforward ruling for the District Court of Maryland
Neither Yahya Jammeh nor his wife Zineb or the trust retained an attorney to represent them. Until September 21st, no objection has been made, prompting U.S federal prosecutors to ask U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow to enter a default judgment granting the forfeiture.
In ruling to forfeit Yahya Jammeh’s Potomac property, the judge took into account the reasonable faith efforts deployed by the U.S Justice Department to confirm that the Amended Complaint was served to Yahya Jammeh and his wife in Equatorial Guinea.
And since Yahya Jammeh and his wife chose to remain silent and never litigate their property’s clean ownership, the Maryland District did not receive an extension request or consent to the deadlines specified by the District Court of Maryland.
And until the judge’s ruling, no person or entity has filed either a claim to Yahya Jammeh’s Property or has otherwise appeared to contest the forfeiture of the Defendant Property.
Meanwhile, the time for Yahya Jammeh or his wife to attempt any recovery of the Potomac Mansion through the just concluded Maryland Court litigation has expired.
In fine, the property is now an asset of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, determining how it would use it. Often, embezzled assets legally seized in the U.S are sold, with proceeds given to the victims. In this case, it would be the people of The Gambia.