News analysis

South Africa's benefactors
  • Tokyo Sexwale says he has been entrusted with a literally unbelievable amount of money, intended to benefit all of Africa.
  • His sole point of contact to this supposed fortune is a man in Singapore who – for the manager of largest concentration of wealth ever known – lives in surprisingly modest fashion.
  • Sexwale says the man who owns the money is not secret, though he is anonymous.
  • But in 2015, with one unwise tweet, the last emperor of Java accidentally exposed himself.
  • Meanwhile, in the United States, the emperor has come to be associated with a fraudster.
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In a press conference of more than two hours on Thursday, Tokyo Sexwale did not reveal a lot of hard information about the vast "White Spiritual Boy" treasure he alleges has been stolen in South Africa.

The only startling revelation came in the very last seconds, when Sexwale said he had not been paid his fees yet, but had been promised "a percentage" of the trillions of rands he was working to recover.

After promising proof of his allegations, the one-time presidential hopeful did exactly that: he provided proof that he had made allegations, showing how he had approached high-ranking ANC members, the Reserve Bank, and President Cyril Ramaphosa. He did not, however, provide proof that the trillions of rands he alleges was stolen had ever existed, or that it had been stolen.

As to who had stolen the money and other details around the supposed crime, that was all part of a sensitive police matter he had been asked not to speak about, he said.

Nor would Sexwale say where the literally unbelievable amount of money had come from.

See also | Tokyo Sexwale appears to have fallen for a scam so stupid even QAnoners rejected it

"He’s anonymous. He’s not secret. He’s anonymous," said Sexwale. 

But one detail offered by Sexwale helps lead back to that shadowy benefactor of humanity – if only as a single blurred photo – and the astonishingly modest manager of his wealth.

His single point of contact with the ultimate owner of the money is the Singapore citizen Chark Leong Boey, said Sexwale, who is the chairman, trustee, and proxy "who controls the money".

It is Boey who writes the letters, and appoints agents, said Sexwale – including himself.

Boey has had a presence in South African corporate records since 2016 when, in August and October respectively, he appeared as a director of two companies alongside Godwin Webb, identified by Sexwale as his joint mandate holder.

(Webb, who is 73 according to public records, had been due at the press conference, but had been unexpectedly called away for medical reasons at the last second, said Sexwale.)

Boey's company records in Singapore are much more extensive. In the last 30 years he has been involved, as shareholder or director, in more than four dozen companies in that territory. Many have nondescript names, such as Capital Merchant Magnum Opus, and CPS Overseas Enterprises.

None have a discernible presence beyond records offices, or any sign of large-scale activity of any kind. But several use the same residential address Boey gave the South African registrar of companies. That shows he has lived in the same 9th-floor apartment of a modest block in Singapore – where people often dry their clothing on balconies – since at least 2003.

Boey does not live in squalor; apartments in his block currently go for around S$550,000, the equivalent of some R6 million. But, as described by Sexwale, his by Singapore standards middle-class apartment in a nondescript block is the headquarters for a fight to retrieve the single largest concentration of private wealth ever amassed, and spread it across Africa in the greatest bout of philanthropy humanity has ever experienced.

The level of Boey's apartment on block 180 of Bedok North Road. (Via Google Street View)

See also: White Spiritual Boy scam and Tokyo Sexwale | ‘Documents’ claim theft of more than R100 trillion

Boey has been at least as careful as Sexwale in protecting the identity of the man whose vast wealth they are both supposed to be managing. But in 2015, the man himself broke cover on Twitter.

The text of Sam Saimoen bin Muri's tweet read:

IMF reg : IMF-R/45/2003 and account Mandiri bank 1030003017205,........and I am still alive until now,and i owner special code S171057G,...

Three years later Fanie Fondse, a Reserve Bank shareholder who attended Sexwale's press conference, he said, to confirm the truth of what Sexwale had to say, cited that same bank account number. That, said Fondse, was a "World Bank" account for Muri.

The Twitter account linked to the saga in that way only ever offered the world three tweets, of which the account number was the last. It is also the only public sign that anyone by the name Sam Saimoen bin Muri exists, and it provides the only picture of him. It is grainy, impossible to verify, and striking.

(Via Twitter)

The Twitter bio reads: "The Last Emperor Javanese Kingdom".

Indonesia has seen many iterations of a scam that claims former kingdoms on its islands had amassed enormous amounts of gold, which came to underpin the financial system of the United States. These are often accompanied with documents with impressive seals attached, are sometimes presented as the reason John F Kennedy was assassinated, and have been known to feature supposedly long-lost royalty.

Muri himself is largely invisible, a neat trick for a man which by Sexwale's accounting is richer not only than Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, but another seven of the world's richest people combined.

His name does feature in some records, though – as the names of what appears to be intended as charitable foundations.

In South Africa, such a foundation entity was established in 2018. It is controlled by husband and wife Daniel and Fransene Jordaan. Speaking for both of them, Daniel Jordaan this week said the pair were bound by non-disclosure agreements, and asked for questions in writing to which he did not respond.

In the US state of Nevada, a similar entity was set up in 2013. Its only listed officer is J. Gerald McElroy, who could not be reached for comment.

A man by the same name has a history of bank fraud in the United States.

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