GhIB apologises to Otumfuo over expired diplomatic passport claim

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The Ghana International Bank (GhIB) in the United Kingdom, has formally apologised before a London Employment Tribunal, for stating that at the time the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II gave £350,000 to an executive director of the bank in August 2016, for it to be lodged in his account in the UK, the King was using an expired diplomatic passport.

The bank has also apologised for stating in its written evidence in the ongoing case, by stating that, it suspected the Asantehene of engaging in a “dodgy deal” with SAKA Company.

A former executive director of the GhIB in the UK, Mr Mark Arthur has sued his employers, the GhIB, arguing he was wrongfully dismissed, unfairly dismissed and was not protected as a whistle blower.

He was dismissed for allegedly failing to follow anti-money laundering rules and violating security policies, when he collected almost £200,000, as well as $200,000 in cash from the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to deposit at the bank in August 2016.

The Asantehene is said to have summoned Mr Arthur to his residence in Henly-on-Thames and handed him a bag containing the money and the bank official felt it was inappropriate to ask too many questions.

Mr Arthur, the second most senior person at the GhIB and a dual citizen of the UK and Ghana sent the money to the bank’s city offices for deposit in an Uber taxi after first driving to his own home with the cash.

He was first suspended and later sacked after an investigation by external auditors and in his statement to the tribunal he said his boss, Mr John Mensah, the Chief Executive of GhIB, approved the deposit and transfer.

Read also: Otumfuo’s diplomatic passport had expired when he gave out £350,000 – bank

Diplomatic passport

As part of the employment tribunal hearing of the dismissal case, the GhIB in its written evidence said the Asantehene’s diplomatic passport “had in fact expired” in August 2016 at the time of the incident and also stated that, it suspected the Asantehene of engaging in a “dodgy deal”with SAKA Company.”

But at the Tribunal hearing on Thursday, the solicitor for the bank, Mayer Brown said on four occasions that he wanted to make that correction and apologise for making those comments, UK’s ABN TV’s Vincent Appiah who was at the courtroom on Thursday stated in a report on radio.

“I am apologising for the wrong statement by saying that the Otumfuo is using an expired diplomatic passport,” the solicitor told the tribunal and also apologised for stating that the bank suspected the Asantehene of engaging in a “dodgy deal”with SAKA Company.

The GhIB’s accusation had been stated in the written evidence to the Tribunal and repeated in a press statement which was released on Wednesday by the bank but on Thursday, the bank apologised and requested a correction of those two accusations.

Arthur’s lawyer

In another development, Vincent Appiah also reported that the lawyer for Mr Arthur also told the Tribunal that they don’t understand why the Asantehene’s name had been dragged into the process at the Tribunal when the matter was between the bank and Mr Arthur.

The lawyer also said he believed the Asantehene had not done anything wrong and that they suspect there was a strained relationship between Mr Arthur and his former boss, Mr John Mensah, the Chief Executive of GhIB, who had earlier approved of the transaction but later changed his mind and went to report Mr Arthur.

The lawyer for Mr Arthur insisted that Mr Mensah had previously approved similar transactions for the Asantehene and added that a former employee, Raymond Sowah and other staff members proved that the transaction was genuine and so they don’t understand why Mr Mensah should report the incident.

He said they suspect that Mr Mensah behaved that way after a staff had drawn his attention to the fact that he did not have powers to approve a transaction involving such an amount..

The hearing continues Monday, October 16, 2017.

Excerpts from Wednesday’s proceedings

  1. All evidence, in this case, has now been given to the Employment Tribunal which will soon retire to consider its decision.
  2. Mr Arthur’s position throughout his suspension, investigation, disciplinary process and the Employment Tribunal hearing is that he had done nothing wrong.
  3. Mr Arthur has consistently confirmed in evidence that at no time did he suspect that the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, did anything wrong.
  4. Mr Arthur’s evidence through the investigation, disciplinary and at the tribunal hearing makes it clear that the CEO of the bank, Mr Joe Mensah, approved the transactions before completion in accordance with the King’s instructions and did not think that there was suspicious activity.
  5. The banks’ position is that Mr Mensah did not approve the transactions. The morning after the transaction and following an internal conversation with other members of his senior staff, Mr Mensah changed his position and reported the transactions to the UK authorities as being suspicious.
  6. There is a conflict between the evidence that Mr Arthur and Mr Mensah have given regarding whether or not Mr Mensah approved the transactions and Mr Arthur has asked the Employment Tribunal to decide which of the two is telling the truth.
  7. It should be noted that Mr Mensah decided not to give any evidence at the Employment Tribunal hearing, even though he was and should have been the bank’s number one witness as he was central to the events that have unfolded.
  8. The person that Mr Mensah retained to conduct the disciplinary hearing of Mr Arthur, Mr Peter Haines (former chairman of the Bank’s Board Audit Risk & Compliance Committee) also decided not to make himself available in person to the tribunal to give evidence and to be cross-examined.
  9. Mr Haines’ directorship was not however renewed shortly after his decision to dismiss Mr Arthur.
  10. Mr Arthur has confirmed to the Employment Tribunal that the collection and transportation of cash from the Asantehene’s residence (transported by Uber taxi) was not in breach of the bank’s insurance policies. The bank however relies on an insurance proposal and not the actual insurance policy itself (the latter of which Mr Arthur asserts supports his position).
  11. Mr Arthur believes that the Employment Tribunal decision when delivered will demonstrate that the transactions involving the Asantehene’s account were above the suspicions cited by the bank. It is important to note however that the Employment Tribunal has not been asked to determine the nature of those transactions, those transactions merely create the background relating to the employment issues that the Employment Tribunal has to decide.
  12. Mr Arthur maintains that he has not done anything wrong and that the procedures that he followed when dealing with the Asantehene’s account were the procedures that the bank (including other senior staff) followed over a number of years. And Mr Arthur therefore believes, among other things, that he has been treated inconsistently and unfairly in this matter.

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ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

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A Freelance Journalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A contributory writer for Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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