Otumfuo’s money laundering case is still on, with the Ashanti King being cited for ditching laid down funds transfer procedures in moving over £350,000 from Ghana to the UK.
Traditional leader of the Ashanti Kingdom, Asantehene Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II ,has been cited in a money laundering suit involving a bank in the United Kingdom. Otumfuo’s money laundering case involves the unauthorized transfer of over £350,000 from Ghana to the United Kingdom.
According to a report by The Telegraph, Otumfuo moved a whopping sum of £350,000 out of the country without following due protocols. However, the subsequent deposit of the cash at the Ghana International Bank triggered a money laundering alert in the UK’s Capital.
A report from The Telegraph has it that in August 2016, Otumfuo summoned Mark Arthur, a senior executive staff of the Ghana International Bank in the UK, to his residence in Henley-on-Thames and handed him a bag containing almost £200,000 as well as $200,000 with consecutive serial numbers.
See Also: Otumfuo Acquires 3 Made-in-Ghana Vehicles at a Go!
Without asking too many questions, Mark Arthur who is from New Barnet, Hertfordshire and holds a dual citizenship of the UK and Ghana, told an employment tribunal that he drove to his own home with the cash and then took it in an Uber taxi to the bank’s City offices for deposit in the king’s account; an action that subsequently cost him his job.
Mr Arthur said that Otumfuo, who holds a diplomatic passport, told him the monies were withdrawn from banks in Ghana and brought to the UK.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.
The bank a day after accepting the cash and making the transfer to Jersey, reported the transactions to the National Crime Agency as suspicious.
An investigation into the illicit deposit and transfer by outside accountants Grant Thornton saw the suspension and subsequent dismissal of Mr. Arthur on the grounds of failing to follow anti-money laundering rules as well as violation of security policies asince it was only insured to carry cash by armoured car up to a maximum of £250,000.
News of Mr Arthur’s suspension was subsequently passed to the City watchdogs the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA sent inspectors into the bank who severely reprimanded its handling of cash, the tribunal was told.
Meanwhile, Mr Arthur who alleged that the transactions were approved by Ghana International Bank’s chief executive, Joseph Mensah, is now claiming wrongful dismissal, unfair dismissal and failure to protect a whistleblower.
But Mr Mensah has denied the claims, having told the outside reviewer of Mr Arthur’s dismissal that he “didn’t even have the authority to sanction such a huge amount”.
In his witness statement, Mr Arthur who was an executive director of the bank, further appealed that his failure to follow anti-money laundering rules in accepting the cash from the Asantehene, was influenced by the king’s status, stating that he did not “wish to offend a sovereign of his country”.
“I could not carry out the necessary due diligence by talking to His Majesty so decided it would be best to verify the deposits at the bank and to speak directly to Mr Mensah rather than disrespect His Majesty in a face-to-face meeting,” he pleaded.
Lawyers for Mr Arthur are also arguing that his handling of the deposit was in line with the way the bank previously handled Osei Tutu II’s account, citing a string of large cash deposits in 2013 and 2014 where the source of the funds was not properly recorded.
They also included a $100,000 that a review of the king’s account said came from a fundraising event. There were no documents recording the source of that cash, however.
However, Colin Millar, a building society chairman drafted in by Ghana International Bank to adjudicate on Mr Arthur’s appeal against his dismissal, rejected suggestions that the £350,000 holdall was acceptable given the king’s history with the bank.
He pointed out to the tribunal that the deposit and swift transfer offshore was a “classic” warning sign of money laundering. Mr Millar told the hearing: “If you want to hide the sources of funds that are from a disreputable source then you move them around until it reaches the point where the authorities can’t trace them back to their original source. That’s a way of hiding the proceeds of crime.”
Howbeit, hearing of Otumfuo’s money laundering case continues. The Asantehene is currently estimated as Africa’s 10th richest monarch, with valuable goldmine and cocoa plantations and remains one of the Most Influential Personalities in Ghana.
Join GhanaStar.com to receive daily email alerts of breaking news in Ghana. GhanaStar.com is your source for all Ghana News. Get the latest Ghana news, breaking news, sports, politics, entertainment and more about Ghana, Africa and beyond.