BHI Ponzi: The Global & Local signs come down

By Chris Steyn & Asime Nyide 

The Global & Local signage at the top of the tall Metal Box building in Owl Street, Auckland Park, Johannesburg could be seen from miles away.

But when BizNews went there today (Thursday), gone was the signage – less than three months after a prestigious Investment Seminar Global & Local co-hosted in that building with Allan Gray.

When BizNews tried to find out more, it was swiftly told to leave.

The countdown to this investment advisory company’s name being stripped from the building began when the BHI Trust’s Craig Warriner handed himself over to police on 12 October and admitted to running a Ponzi scheme.

The Global & Local Signage prior to its removal

It has now emerged in court documents that 220 investors were defrauded of an estimated R1 182,906,735.00 over the span of a decade.

It was this unregulated scheme that Global & Local Founder Michael Haldane had punted so enthusiastically to investors.

With Warriner behind bars, Haldane’s first response to investors came in a letter in which he stated: “The allegations against Mr. Craig Warriner and the BHI Trust concern us, not just because of the uncertainty it has created for you, our valued clients, but also for many of our team members and their families, who have also invested their own personal funds with the BHI Trust.

“Over the past two decades, the BHI Trust has proven to be a reliable and profitable investment option for our valuable clients, our families and us. All of us have not only seen significant and sustainable growth in our investments with BHI Trust but have also been able to consistently access and make use of those funds as and when necessary. Until now, we have had no reason to suspect any unlawfulness regarding the BHI Trust.”

In that first letter to investors, Haldane gave the assurance that Local & Global were in the process of conducting an investigation to determine “the ultimate fate of your and our investments” in the BHI Trust.

But, on 9 November, banking giant Investec pulled the plug on Global & Local.

Global & Local then tried to steer their customers to Integrity Asset Management. 

Their proposed “solution” to Investec’s move involved transferring their money to a new CCM account with “one of our long-standing and trusted services providers”, while “Shane and Avinash will continue to manage your account”.

It is not clear how many clients did so, but in the most recent development, Global & Local transferred its client portfolio to another investment firm.

Announcing the move on  24 November, Haldane and MD Mauro Forlin declared the transfer of the company’s client portfolio to GCI Wealth. 

Announcing the move, they stated: “This strategic move aims to uphold the superior financial advisory services our clients deserve amid recent industry upheavals.”

Haldane added: “Global & Local has always been synonymous with outstanding financial guidance. Facing recent challenges, we have actively sought to secure our clients’ best interests.

“This transition underlines our dedication to our clients’ financial security and our confidence in GCI Wealth’s professionalism. We trust GCI Wealth to uphold the dedication and integrity our clients expect.” 

At Warriner’s appearance this week, he notified the court of his intention to cooperate, admitting to tax fraud, and implicating several “financial guys” in his elaborate scheme.

He is due back in court on 20 March next year (2024).

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