Nicolae Bogdan Buzaianu is a naturalized Swiss of Romanian origin who has been described as one of Yaya Jammeh’s least-known but highly consequential business partners and a central figure in partnering with the former-dictator to plunder the country’s wealth.
He is also owner of Westwood , a company found to be in cahoots with Jammeh in the illegal exploitation of Senegalese redwood timber for export, causing environmental havoc as well as threatening the diplomatic relations between neighbors.
Prior to venturing into The Gambia, the Swiss-Romanian was alleged to have been involved in a 7 million dollar gold-smuggling ring that was unearthed. A sizeable amount of gold was seized by the Zambian drug squad in 2007.
The late Zambia President Michael Sata implicated Mr. Buzaianu which led his to threaten to sue the government of Zambia for $100 million which he never carried out. He, instead, returned to Switzerland before trying out Gambia as a business destination.
Records show that both the Ocean Bay Hotel and Resorts and Sun Beach Hotel were leased to the BP Investment Group FZE (BPI), a company believed to belong to the Swiss-Romania,
Ocean Bay Hotels and Resorts (OBHR) was leased for an initial term of 10 years from 1st December, 2013 and Sun Beach Hotel was leased for 15 years 10 months from 9th August, 2016.
OBHR monthly rental: The monthly rental for OBHR was 13,000 (thirteen thousand) Euros payable quarterly in advance for the first five years increasing to Euro 14,000 per month for the second five years. The lease agreement also stipulated that any and all investments made by BPI in the physical structure of the OBHR during the term of the lease shall be deducted from the monthly rent up to a maximum of 6,000 Euros.
Sun Beach Monthly rental: The monthly rental of Sun Beach is the sum of $10,000 from 1st November, 2016 to 31st December, 2021 increasing to $12,000 from 1st January, 2022 to 31st December, 2026 and to $15,000 for the remaining duration.
BPI was to take Sun Beach on an “as is” basis and be responsible for all renovation and remodelling at its own expense and spend not less than 2 million Euros in accordance with its own renovation schedule/plans. BPI failed to honor this commitment.
In March, 2017 under the new Managing Director, SSHFC decided to review the investments and decided that the consideration was scandalous, extortionately low and detrimental to SSHFC investment returns.
The returns on investments (ROI) for Ocean Bay Hotel and Resorts never reached 1%. The rage was from 0.8% – 0.9% per annum. BPI since inception of the OBHR lease 31st March, 2017 were paying a monthly rental of 7,000 Euros which means they were deduction automatically 6,000 Euros for purported renovations/ remodeling without prior consent of SSHFC.
ROI for Sun Beach was 2.55% annually. The poor returns on investments together with the fact that BPI was at the time owing SSHFC several months rent arrears nd woefully falling short of meeting its other obligations such as payment of utility bills, led the SSHFC management under Mr. Manjang to terminate the leases.
In August of 2017, the corporation instructed its solicitors to issue notices of termination which was challenged by BPI in the High Court to prevent SSHFC from reentering the hotels. In May 2018, the case in the High Court was struck due to non-diligent prosecution.
The Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation is prepared and ready to re-enter the hotels, according to sources, but the Commission of Inquiry into the illicit wealth of Yaya Jammeh has placed them under receivership. The corporation has tried unsuccessfully to discharge their order. Meanwhile, SSHFC has an offer of 1.2 million Euros annually for the two hotels which they cannot pursue further because of the current status of the hotels.