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'Tokyo Sexwale was scammed': There's no looted fund, says Tito Mboweni

19 April 2021 - 16:32 By andisiwe makinana
'You cannot steal transmitted money from the central bank,' said Tito Mboweni in response to Tokyo Sexwale's allegation that a huge 'heritage fund' has been looted. File photo.
'You cannot steal transmitted money from the central bank,' said Tito Mboweni in response to Tokyo Sexwale's allegation that a huge 'heritage fund' has been looted. File photo.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni has rejected claims by businessman and ANC veteran Tokyo Sexwale that money from a heritage fund meant for the poor has been stolen.

Mboweni took to Twitter on Monday suggesting that Sexwale may have been a victim of a scam.

Mr Tokyo Sexwale’s statement about stolen money is untrue, sad and [it] seems that he was a victim of the many scams around. You cannot steal transmitted money from the central bank. How? His statement on television was unfortunate. Will reach out to him,” he said.

The National Treasury and the Reserve Bank (SARB) are convinced that Sexwale was scammed and have called on him to prove otherwise if he believes this is not the case. They said in a joint statement on Monday that allegations of theft of non-existent funds had no validity.

The two entities said Sexwale's allegations on alleged billions that were deposited at the Bank pointed to a common scam.

“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.

“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,” read the statement.

The Treasury and the Bank said they had previously received correspondence from Sexwale and many others that alleged billions of rand had been stolen from a fund that has been referred to as the “White Spiritual Boy Trust” set up by a foreign donor.

“It is further alleged that there are trillions of dollars in the said fund and that, inter alia, a certain Mr Goodwin Erin Webb was its mandated representative in SA.

“On investigation, the SARB can confirm that it has no record of the existence of the said fund and it has advised Mr Sexwale in writing that, given the SARB’s experience and knowledge of this and other similar matters, it could only conclude that the alleged fund was a scam,” he said.

“It should be noted that Mr Sexwale is not the first prominent person acting on behalf of a Mr Webb or an unknown donor for such funds, and such requests can be traced to many years before 2016,” read the statement.

The Bank said it could confirm that all cross-border transactions are reported to the bank by commercial banks who are appointed as authorised dealers in foreign exchange transactions. The Bank had concluded that there was no evidence to support the existence of such funds.

“If Mr Sexwale believes otherwise, the onus is on him and his unknown sponsor to provide independent written proof of the existence and/or transfer of such funds, as well as certified copies of actual identification and citizenship of such ‘donors’, in line with the normal Fica-type anti-money laundering requirements.

“Allegations of theft of non-existent funds have no validity,” read the statement. 

Sexwale told eNCA on Sunday that he had been involved in raising billions of rand, with another unnamed trustee, and said a powerful family had contributed these funds to pay off university debt and provide free higher education for poor students.

“I'm part of two people who are in charge of the heritage fund that belongs to a very powerful family out there in the world. This fund is here in SA already, it comes through the SA Reserve Bank,” said Sexwale.

“I'm part of the two people who are mandate holders.”

He said former president Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa knew about the fund from 2016 and “that's why comrade Zuma spoke about free education, not government money”.

The money would also be used to top up the social relief of distress grant, to save certain state-owned enterprises and for the bullet trains that Ramaphosa spoke about in his June 2019 state of the nation address.

Sexwale said when making sure this money was brought into the [SA] economy, they encountered some resistance and when they investigated the resistance, they found that some of the money had been stolen.

He said the theft was being investigated by the police.