The hyping Otumfuo’s money laundering story has so far received has left almost everyone confused over what actually transpired.
Since Tuesday, October 11, the media has been buzzing with headlines and stories of the Ashanti Kingdom ruler, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II being named in a money laundering suit in the United Kingdom.
Trust the modern day media whenever it comes to news hype, especially when a prominent figure is involved in the development. The level of hyping Otumfuo’s money laundering story has so far been given by the media, has left a lot of people groping in the dark over what actually transpired.
While a section of the public has been lashing out at the Ashanti King for being “corrupt” – that’s the common word, some others who hold much respect for the traditional ruler are yet to believe the stories.
Meanwhile, the general understanding that has been painted by media reports, especially through the various catchy headlines is that Otumfuo looted some three hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling (£350,000) and in the bid to get it covered up, implicated a bank staff who later got dismissed. But is that the truth? Let’s find out!
Otumfuo’s Money Laundering Story: Available Facts
What’s the Exact Amount Involved?
A report by The Telegraph has it that in August 2016, Otumfuo summoned Mark Frank Arthur, an executive director at the Ghana International Bank, 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 drove to his own home with the cash and then took it in an Uber taxi to the bank’s City offices and deposited the cash into the king’s personal account. He also transferred $200,000 out of the already deposited cash, to an account at Standard Bank in Jersey, as instructed by Otunmuo.
What then Went Wrong?
The bank a day after accepting the cash and effecting the transfer to Jersey, reported the transactions to the National Crime Agency as suspicious, apparently because of the huge amount involved.
The “suspicious” alert triggered an investigation by Grant Thornton outside accountants into the deposit and transfer, who concluded that Mr. Arthur did not follow laid down bank procedures and anti-money laundering regulations in effecting the transactions.
He was therefore dismissed for “gross misconduct, gross negligence, breach of confidence and catastrophic error of judgement” which include:
- Failure to inquire and find out the source(s) of the funds.
- Failure to follow rules associated with accepting large sums of cash deposits and carrying out due diligence afterwards.
- Transporting the cash through a means that is outside the bank’s insurance policy.
- Failure to get appropriate approvals before carrying out the transactions.
- Neglect of the bank’s currency movement regulations on the grounds of diplomatic passport.
Who are the Parties in the Law Suit?
Mark Frank Arthur did not accept he committed any offence in assisting Otumfuo pay in as well as transfer some funds to desired accounts. According to Arthur who is both a citizen of Ghana and the UK (precisely Ashanti and New Barnet, Hertfordshire respectively), the Asantehene is a sovereign of his homeland and he [Arthur] was in no position to treat his financial transactions as suspicious.
Mr. Arthur who deemed his dismissal wrongful and unfair, also claims that the deposit and transfer were approved by the GHIB’s Chief Executive, Joseph Mensah. In addition to this claim, he said the GHIB has on a previous occasion, served the Asantehene in a similar way.
He therefore filed a suit against his employees at the Central Employment Tribunal, London, claiming “wrongful dismissal, unfair dismissal and failure to protect a whistleblower” and praying the court to order his reinstatement to the GHIB.
From the above explanations, the parties in the suit are Mr. Mark Frank Arthur (the claimant) and the Ghana International Bank (the respondent). So Otumfuo is not a party in the case. He was only mentioned in the process of the case hearing, not because he is in any way being accused of money laundering, but because it was his money that was involved.
Another thing to point out here is that “Money Laundering suit” may not even be the best name for the court case as it is not the bank that sued the staff over money laundering, but the staff sued the bank over his dismissal, asking to be called back.
But the fact that Mark Arthur’s name is not popular enough to make good news headlines, the media opted for that of Otumfuo. Yes, Otumfuo was named in the case, but not indicted, at least for now.
Did Otumfuo Loot the Cash in Question?
One thing that is not yet known is the sources of the monies Otumfuo gave to Mark Arthur for deposit and subsequent transfer.
Although the GHIB had earlier stated that the money in question was transferred from SAKA Company under circumstances it suspected to be “dodgy”, no one has stated that the King got the cash through foul means, neither has it been ascertained that he decided to hand the cash to Mark at his home in the bid to hide any shady deal or simply because of his status and convenience.
The Final Verdict?
The GHIB has denied claims that John Mensah, the bank’s Chief Executive ever approved the transactions by Mark Arthur involving Otumfuo’s money. According to Mr. Mensah, he “didn’t even have the authority to sanction such a huge amount”.
The bank has also denied allegations of wrongful and unfair dismissal, insisting that nothing should have stopped Mr. Arthur from following the bank’s laid down procedures in serving the King. They as well denied that there is anytime a similar amount of money was dealt with by the bank, the way Mark Arthur dealt with Otumfuo’s money.
The final hearing on the case which will decide Mr. Arthur’s fate holds Monday October, 16. We’ll feed you with the proceeds as soon as it unfolds.