Wednesday, February 3, 2016
SGI gives the Tongan King a humanitarian award, an honorary doctorate, and the middle finger
Sydney Daily Telegraph,
Sept 26 2001
COURT JESTER'S SCAM NO LAUGHING MATTER
An American Buddhist claiming to be the world's only official
court jester has sparked a political row in the Kingdom of Tonga
over millions of missing dollars.
The row centers on the disappearance of money that the Pacific
Island nation made selling citizenship to Chinese.
The nation's tiny legislative assembly launched moves this week
to impeach minister implicated in the scandal, which goes right
up to King Taufa'ahau Topou IV and his son, Crown Prince
About $40 million is missing - a huge amount in a kingdom which
has an annual government budget of 86 million paanga ($78
The saga centers on Jesse Bogdonoff, from North Carolina, a
businessman who also sells magnets to cure back pain, who
invested the money on behalf of Tonga.
So impressed was the King, he issued a royal decree proclaiming
Mr. Bogdonoff court jester. ***In turn, Mr. Bogdonoff, a member
of Japan's richest lay Buddhist organization, the Soka Gakkai
International, *** had the group give the King a humanitarian
award and an honorary doctorate.***
But now the kingdom cannot find the millions, apparently
moved by Mr. Bogdonoff from the US bank in which it was held.
"It looks like the money has all gone, it looks like we are the
laughing stock of the world again," said member of parliament
Teisina Fuko, who is spearheading moves to get to the bottom
of the scandal.
The money was made in the late 1980s when Hong Kong
businessman George Chen won royal approval to sell Tongan
citizenship and special passports to mainly Asians, particularly
Hong Kong Chinese then worried about the handover to China.
Among the first to get them were then exiled Filipino president
Ferdinand Marcos, his wife Imelda and their daughters.