- Someone has misappropriated more than R110 trillion – mostly in gold – secured in South African banks according to "proof" presented on WhatsApp groups and social media on Tuesday.
- This follows public allegations by Tokyo Sexwale about the theft.
- The amount of gold involved would be slightly bigger than the sum of all gold jewellery in the world.
- The cash amounts are also rather large, enough – and then some – to fund the free education and poverty grants Sexwale claimed a foreign family intended.
- The four individuals directly involved in the supposed transfer of the money are not immediately answering questions.
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Suspect "documents" widely circulated on Tuesday suggest that someone has misappropriated more than R110 trillion – the equivalent of more than 50 years of government spending – in South Africa, most of it in gold.
That literally unbelievable wealth seems to be at the heart of allegations made by magnate and one-time presidential hopeful Tokyo Sexwale that money intended to fund free education, and give handouts to the poor, had been stolen.
The documents, with references to the "White Spiritual Boy Trust", were posted to large WhatsApp groups, and eventually on public forums – including by the "AdvoBarryRoux" Twitter account, which has 1.3 million followers.
The SA Reserve Bank and National Treasury on Monday linked Sexwale's claims to White Spiritual Boy Trust, in a joint statement seeking to refute his claims on national television.
Third parties characterised the document as proof of what Sexwale said, though there is no direct link other than the name of the trust, and Sexwale has not expanded on his allegations.
One letter lays claim to amounts that include $1.1 trillion, the equivalent of some R16 trillion, supposedly on deposit with First National Bank. That is a sum 54 times larger than the market value of the bank's parent company. It is also roughly the value of every company listed on the JSE.
But most of the wealth would be in the form of "100,000 metric tons" of gold supposedly on deposit with the Reserve Bank since 1966, though not necessarily in physical form. At current prices that has a theoretical value of more than R80 trillion, but could be tough to sell without collapsing the world gold market, representing about half the gold ever mined, or just about the weight of all gold jewellery ever made.
How exactly such a gigantic stash of gold was accumulated is not clear. Nor is it clear how trillions of dollars could have been deposited into banks that did not exist at the claimed time of deposits, or how the funds have been kept secret for more than 50 years.
Who controls the supposed stash is slightly more clear, thanks to references to one Sam Saimoen B Muri, or Sansalmon Bin Muri, who seemingly instructed that money be transferred to a vehicle with his initials, the SBM Private Equity Fund.
SBM is a real company, registered in 2018, but it was unable to immediately shed any light on the events to which Sexwale referred. Of its four current and former directors, one said he would not speak to journalists because there are no ethical journalists, and one said only he was in a meeting and had no comment. The remaining two, a husband and wife, said they were bound by non-disclosure agreements and would need permission to answer written questions.