A staggering £350,000 deposited into the personal account of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in the United Kingdom (UK), has generated controversy in the country.
Officials in the UK, according to news reports in some UK newspapers, are suspecting money laundering but so far no invitation has been extended to the office of the Asante Monarch.
One Mark Arthur, a British-Ghanaian, who reportedly deposited the colossal amount into Otumfuo’s personal account at Ghana International Bank in the UK, has landed in trouble, as he has lost his job at the bank.
Arthur was accused of not doing diligent work, regarding depositing such a huge amount into someone’s personal account without going through checks, and as a result, he has been fired by his employers, reports indicate.
But Mr Arthur, who believes he did not breach any rules, strongly argued that he acted based on the orders of the Asantehene – who is a diplomatic passport holder and respected figure.
He said it was impossible for him to question or reject Otumfuo’s order, who is his overlord, to deposit the said amount into his account, saying that he had no other choice at that moment than to act on the king’s request.
Otumfuo, the news said, invited Arthur into his plush multi-million pound sterling mansion in Henley-on-Thames and gave him a bag containing £200,000 and $200,000 to be deposited into his account, which Arthur did.
Mr Arthur’s trouble then started immediately the money hit the account of the king, as officials in the UK suspected foul-play and so started to investigate the matter.
But Mr Arthur, who is now fighting very hard to reclaim his lost job, has argued before the Tribunal that he was in a very tight corner, as he did not want to offend the mighty king.
He was quoted telling the Tribunal, “Without a policy to follow and did without wishing to offend a sovereign of my country, I found myself in a very difficult situation and one I had never been in before.
“I could not carry out the necessary due diligence by talking to His Majesty so I decided it would be best to speak directly to Mr. Mensah rather than disrespect His Majesty in a face-to-face meeting.”
Arthur and his counselors have also argued that he (Arthur) acted directly in line with how the bank had handled Otumfuo’s accounts previously; therefore he had not committed any crime.
According to him, he is aware of similar large cash deposits into the king’s account in the bank in 2013 and 2014 and in both instances, the source of the funds were not properly recorded.
Kumasi Chiefs React
Meanwhile, information emanating from the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi – the official seat of the Asantehene – who is currently in Brazil, indicates that the chiefs are very angry over the news report.
The chiefs, even though had not been given clearance from Otumfuo to comment on the issue, stated emphatically that the disgusting reports that the king had indulged in money laundering has no basis and so it should be ignored.
“How can a king of Otumfuo’s highly respected status across the globe be involved in money laundering?” one of the chiefs, who spoke on condition of anonymity asked, adding that the news has no merit.
According to the chiefs, the Asantehene is respected and popular across the globe and so he would never indulge in any illegality, stressing that if Otumfuo had indeed erred, the UK officials would have written to their Ghanaian counterparts.
The chiefs said the Asantehene had travelled wide across the globe.
“Since he ascended the Golden Stool for about two decades and he has not been accused, even for once, for indulging in money laundering so reject the false story.”
They said those alleging that Otumfuo had indulged in money laundering don’t know tradition, stressing that the Asantehene is among the few powerful and respected monarchs on the globe and so nobody should try to defame him.
According to them, the special treatment that is accorded any of the powerful monarchs in the world is also extended to Otumfuo wherever he visits during his travels on the globe and so those fanning the false story should revise their notes.