- Tokyo Sexwale insisted the Heritage Trust Fund was real, despite National Treasury and the Reserve Bank saying he had been scammed.
- Sexwale refused to say how much he was to be paid for acting as a political broker for the fund.
- The Hawks said a case of fraud, alternatively theft, was opened with regard to the so-called Heritage Fund.
Businessman Tokyo Sexwale refused to disclose how much money he would have been paid by a “Heritage Trust Fund”, if he had succeeded in using his political connections to persuade the South African government to take loans from the fund, rather than the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“Let’s put it like this. The money is not yet in, [but] you get paid a percent. In the agreement, is a percent,” he said, meaning a “percentage”, rather than “one percent”.
He added: “But it’s good.”
Sexwale spoke on Thursday afternoon at the Riboville Boutique Hotel and Restaurant in the Waterfall Equestrian Estate, near Midrand, where hordes of young upmarket influencers were creating visual content next to big luxury cars.
Sexwale did not wear a face mask while he spoke in the small conference room, where there was only a loose adherence to Covid-19 protocols.
He said he had not invested any of his own money into the fund, which was prepared to lend money at an interest rate of one or two percent – and had terms more favourable than the IMF’s, he said.
Sexwale said he was appointed by the fund in February 2018.
This would have been six months after Sexwale’s R500 000-a-month director’s fees from the Gupta-linked Trillian Capital Partner would have ended.
Sexwale earned R7.5 million in director’s fees from Trillian, more than half of which he accepted, even after a whistleblower’s report in October 2016 publicly revealed Trillian had prior knowledge that former president Jacob Zuma was about to fire finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, and had planned to cash in on it.
In a diatribe that lasted almost two-and-a-half hours – Sexwale insisted it was not a press conference, but a “journey” he was taking journalists on – the former presidential hopeful bemoaned the fact that he failed to use his high-level political connections as former minister and Gauteng premier to persuade the South African government to use the money in the fund he represented.
The money, he said, could have been used to build huge infrastructure projects, make education free across the board, and extend the Covid-19 social grant to R2 700.
In a tweet, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni explained that it was because National Treasury believed Sexwale had been scammed.
In a joint statement, National Treasury and the Reserve Bank outlined details of the alleged scam, which claims that billions have been deposited at the South African Reserve Bank, but have gone missing.
Mr Tokyo Sexwale’s statement about stolen money is untrue, sad and seems that he was a victim of the many scams abound. You cannot steal transmitted money from the central bank. How? His statement on television was unfortunate. Will reach out to him.
— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) April 19, 2021
“Over the years, National Treasury and the SARB have received many such requests for, or promises, of billions (and now trillions) of rands or dollars – and, from experience, regard these as simply scams,” the two institutions said in a joint statement.
“Any claim that such funds are meant for deserving causes, such as Covid-19 relief, social grants or grants for free education, are simply empty promises to secure the interest of the potential victim,” the statement said.
The institutions said Sexwale had approached them before, saying there were trillions of dollars in the fund – also referred to as the White Spiritual Boy Trust – and that he and Goodwin Erin Webb were the mandated representatives in South Africa.
The Reserve Bank said it could find no record of the existence of such a fund, and that “it could only conclude that the fund was a scam”.
Sexwale, however, accused the bank of a high-level conspiracy and said the money was siphoned off by commercial banks, taken overseas, and returned to South Africa in the form of investments.
He said ordinary investments were unthinkable in the current climate in South Africa because the country had been downgraded to junk status by the ratings agencies.
Sexwale mentioned the 73-year-old Singaporean, Boey Chark Leong, as the international manager of the fund.
“I called, like a fool, from office to office. I sent these WhatsApps, and it’s all silent,” said the former politician, who said he was in regular WhatsApp contact with President Cyril Ramaphosa before he started working for the fund.
He said he then heard that he had been hit by a scam, which he knew nothing about.
“I’m left high and dry,” he said.
Although Sexwale claimed that only scammers “go and sit in hotels and corners of restaurants to try to break deals”, and that he instead went straight to the party to report the fund, he did admit to have been so desperate that he asked “the veterans” to meet him in the same hotel where he was holding the press conference.
It’s not clear whether he referred to the ANC Veterans League or the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans.
He said he also reached out to television show host, JJ Tabane, who was then with Newzroom Afrika, but who, on Sunday night, interviewed him on eNCA.
During Tabane’s show, Sexwale made public his claims about the fund.
Also at the press conference, sitting in a row second from the back, without a Covid-19 face mask, was the aptly-named Fanie Fondse, a Reserve Bank shareholder. He said there was a sum with “more than 15 zeros on it” in the “Heritage Fund”, which had disappeared and that he had brought charges on the matter last week.
With reference presumably to Sexwale, the Hawks in a statement confirmed that “a case of fraud, alternatively theft, was opened with regards to the so-called Heritage Fund as reported by the complainant”.
Spokesperson Katlego Mogale said: “It is too early in the investigation to speculate as to who the role players are.”
He said the names of “suspects or persons of interest” would only be revealed when allegations have been properly investigated and the suspects have been before court.
Fondse, earlier this week, laid charges against Ramaphosa for what he said was corruption related to Shanduka, a company in which Ramaphosa was a shareholder.
He claimed the Free State government gave Shanduka a contract in 2015 to build schools in the province.
Ramaphosa has rubbished all the material facts in this claim, saying Shanduka never had a contract in that province.
The ANC’s national executive committee has set the end of the month as a deadline for corruption-charged leaders to step down.
This would include ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, whose supporters have argued that Ramaphosa should step down too.
Webb was absent from the press conference, despite promises to the contrary, with Sexwale hinting that he was “very old” and might have gone to see a doctor.