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 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.*** "
Happy Valentine's Day everyone and welcome Hitch!
Thanks for sharing the Tonga article, Nichijew.
Not only does it seem that SGI member Mr Bogdanoff was a snake oil salesman and world class embezzler, but he had ambitions as a sculptor as well. I found the article pasted below which was released to the news wires before they discovered the "court jester's" fraud. The King of Tonga, or should I say the Clown of Tonga sounds like he got on famously with President Ikea, as the article says "The Tongan king has proved something of a willing recipient of awards and monuments". He also had a bogus world peace prize on his resume You just couldn't make is stuff up. I'm torn between weeping at the gullibility of us humans and laughing uncontrollably at the sheer absurdity of these characters' antics, (including those of Mr Moon and his cronies). But in the end I'm genuinely shocked at the suffering this must surely have brought to the Tongan population.
FromWorldwide Religious News
Moonies give Tonga patrol boats, Buddhists give king award
(AFP, July 3, 2001)
AUCKLAND, July 3 (AFP) - Tonga's King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV has accepted two naval patrol boats from a Korean cult leader and an award from Japan's biggest lay Buddhist organisation, reports said.
The independent Times of Tonga weekly reported that Korea's Sun Myung Moon, head of the Unification Church -- also known as the Moonies, had given the Tongan defence forces two patrol boats.
And the monthly Eva magazine said Japan's biggest and richest lay Buddhist organisation, the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), had given the king a humanitarian award and an honorary doctorate.
The organisation also presented Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho with the "Soka Women's College Award of Highest Honour," the report said.
In return the king named SGI president Daisaku Ikeda the first honorary professor of education at the "Tongan Institute of Education and the Tonga Institute of Science and Technology" -- institutions not previously known to exist.
King Taufa'ahau is also head of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga which has always taken a hostile view of non-Christian groups. There are no Buddhist or Moonie facilities in Tonga.
Times of Tonga said Moon had also paid for a Tongan delegation led by former prime minister Baron Vaea to attend a conference on peace held late last year.
SGI has erected a five-metre (16-foot) high concrete sundial type structure in front of the Tonga royal palace that will be unveiled on Wednesday, Eva said.
It features messages from the king and Ikeda in English, Japanese and Tongan.
Designer Jesse Dean Bogdonoff told Eva the structure was a monument to world peace and marked the meeting last November between Taufa'ahau and Ikeda.
"These two men are both dedicated to world peace," Bogdonoff said.
"Thousands of members of the SGI from all over the world will come to Tonga to visit and meditate for world peace by the peace monument," he said.
The Soka Gakkai Buddhist group is well known in Japan and has built pagodas and stupas around the world.
It plays a major political role, producing around eight million voters for which ever party it chooses to back. However, the fund-raising measures and the personal style of Ikeda have caused debate in Japan.
The Tongan king has proved something of a willing recipient of awards and monuments.
Two years ago when, on the influence of his daughter Princess Pilolevu Tuita, he broke off ties with Taiwan, Beijing marked the event by giving the king a statue of himself "25 percent larger than life size".
At the time Pilolevu justified the switch from Taiwan to China saying it would give Tongan evangelists a chance in China.
In 1997 a Korean group bestowed the "World Peace Prize-Harvestor's Prize" on the king. A national holiday was proclaimed and a group of Koreans marched down the main street in honour of the event.
The group also claimed that, because of the king's greatness, Tonga was to receive the world's first plant that would turn sea water into natural gas. It turned out to be an elaborate hoax that may have been linked to Korean attempts to move nuclear waste to Tonga.
Although the government has admitted it had been duped, the "World Peace Prize" was listed in a recent official publication on the kings resume.