More details have continued to pour in as hearings on Otumfuo’s money laundering saga continues to unfold…
Latest on the news is that the Ghana International Bank (GHIB) has retracted its previous claim that The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, was possessing an expired Diplomatic Passport as at the time the now controversial bank transactions involving about £350,000 were carried out.
Recall that one of the bank’s senior staff, Mr. Mark Frank Arthur who was dismissed for allegedly sidelining anti-money laundering regulations in assisting Otumfuo with the cash deposit and subsequent transfer, is currently challenging his dismissal at the London Employment Tribunal.
Arthur who is from the Ashanti Kingdom, albeit also holding a UK citizenship, is arguing that his dismissal from the GHIB is wrongful and unfair, due to the fact that he carried out the King’s instruction without questioning because of his status as a sovereign of his homeland. He also claimed that he received approvals from the Chief Executive of the GHIB, Mr. Joseph Mensah before carrying out the transactions.
But in a six-point rebutting defense statement on Wednesday, the Ghana International Bank insisted that Arthur’s dismissal was carried out with due fairness, with Mr. Mensah denying he approved the transactions in question.
They also went ahead to allege that the Diplomatic Passport which Otumfuo had at the time, which Arthur is also claiming to have respected, was expired. They also stressed that nothing should have stopped Mr. Arthur from following the bank’s laid down procedures in serving the King.
“The claimant [Mr Arthur] did not check if the diplomatic passport was valid and in fact, it was expired. Even, if it had not expired, the claimant would have still have to follow the Respondent’s [Bank] processes which he failed to do,” part of the bank’s defense statement reads.
According to the bank, it terminated Frank Arthur’s employment “for gross misconduct, gross negligence and breach of confidence. ‘The decision to dismiss was upheld by an independent third party who found the claimant had made a ‘catastrophic error of judgement.’”
However, during Thursday’s hearing, lead counsel for the GHIB, Mayer Brown told the court that their latest checks have revealed Otumfuo’s diplomatic passport had not expired. He also retracted the Bank’s claim that the money transferred from SAKA Company was done under shady circumstances.
“I am apologising for the wrong statement by saying that the Otumfuo is using an expired diplomatic passport,” the Bank’s solicitor said.
Meanwhile, the court is yet to reconcile between Mr. Arthur’s claims that the transactions in question were duly approved by GHIB Chief Executive Joseph Mensah, and the latter’s complete denial of ever making any such approval.
Hearing continues on Monday, October, 16, 2017.
Otumfuo’s Money Laundering Saga – Background
The Telegraph, on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, reported that the leader of the Ashanti Kingdom, The Asentehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, in August 2016, summoned one Mark Frank Arthur, a senior executive staff of the Ghana International Bank (GHIB), to his residence in Henley-on-Thames in the UK and handed him a bag containing £199,9600 as well as $200,000 with consecutive serial numbers.
Mark Arthur who is from New Barnet, Hertfordshire and holds a dual citizenship of the UK and Ghana, accepted the colossal cash without questioning and deposited it into the King’s personal account at the GHIB City office.
He said Otumfuo only told him the monies were withdrawn from banks in Ghana and brought to the UK. He further revealed that he was also instructed by the Ashanti King to move $200,000 to an account at Standard bank in Jersey. This he told the tribunal, he carried out within hours.
However, a day after accepting the cash and making the transfer to Jersey, the bank reported the transactions to the National Crime Agency as suspicious. The Money laundering alert triggered an investigation by outside accountants Grant Thornton into the illicit deposit and transfer who concluded that Mr. Arthur did not follow laid down bank procedures and anti-money laundering regulations in effecting the transactions, leading to his suspension and subsequent dismissal.
But Mr. Arthur who deemed his dismissal unfair and wrongful, in seeking a redress, sued the GHIB at the Central Employment Appeal Tribunal, London.
It is however, apparent that no one would have heard anything more about the matter, had Mark Arthur accepted his dismissal in good faith. But having decided to challenge it in a court of law, Otumfuo got indicted.
Meanwhile, The Manhyia Palace has dismissed claims that the Asantehene did anything wrong in moving such a huge amount of cash from Ghana to the UK and subsequently transferring part of the funds to an account in Jersey, an Island in the UK.
In refuting the claims, reports from the palace argues that Otumfuo is a man of good repute who owns properties around the world including the UK, and therefore is financially unquestionable.