BHI Ponzi: Mastermind Warriner’s Trust sequestrated

By Chris Steyn

The High Court has ordered the sequestration of the BHI Trust of Craig Warriner – dubbed South Africa’s Bernie Madoff after investors lost billions to his fraudulent investment scheme.

That was confirmed in a statement today (Wednesday 31 October) issued on behalf of Cawood Attorneys, an investor in the trust.

Cawood Attorneys had launched an urgent ex parte sequestration application against BHI trustees Warriner and Christian Ashcroft.

“It should further be noted that, at this stage, there are no actual figures as to what BHI was worth either before or after the circumstances that led to Mr Warriner handing himself in. However, based on the private and confidential discussion with other investors who have approached Cawood Attorneys to assist them in the process of registering their claims against the Trust, it is determined this sum is significant,” the statement reads.

“The investigations are and will be ongoing for some time as, what was uncovered by Cawood Attorneys in its own preliminary research, is far more complex and intricate than at first believed and what is being reported on at present.”

Meanwhile, Warriner’s prestigious Alma Mater responded to the scandal in a letter headed:  Allegations of criminal financial misconduct against a St Stithians College Alumnus .

Signed by Celeste Gilardi, the Rector of St Stithians College, it reads: “As many of you will be aware, in the past few days there have been news reports of an individual, a St Stithians College Alumnus, who through an investment vehicle, appears to have betrayed the trust of a significant number of financial investors and individuals, resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of rands.

“While it appears that no criminal charges have been brought, the media have been reporting that he has declared himself guilty of any and all criminal charges that he may face and remains in custody while awaiting further developments in the criminal proceedings. This is a deeply disturbing and shocking case, and our hearts go out to everyone whose life and livelihood has been impacted. 

“St Stithians College confirms that the school has no investment or financial exposure to the collapsed investment scheme – and never has. All investments on behalf of the College are placed with reputable, regulated asset managers, and managed in accordance with the highest governance and regulatory standards. 

“We received donations, more than a decade ago, from the individual concerned. These were received in full accordance with our due diligence protocols. The College will obviously co-operate fully with any official investigation launched if and when called upon to do so. Such parts of the College that bear the individual’s name are in the process of being renamed. 

“If any more information comes to light that impacts the College, we will be sharing it via our regular communication channels.”

However, Old Stithian Association (OSA) member, Ian Macleod, has looked at recent OSA financial statements (which cover the school’s alumni association activities alone) and found a concerning line item. 

“In the ‘Notes to Financial Statements’ of the annual financial statements dated 31 December 2022, under ‘Managed funds’, there is a line item for ‘Funds managed by BHI Trust’ to the tune of R2,134,369. That figure is listed as R1,152,309 in 2021. In the OSA annual financial statements for 31 December 2021, we have the 2021 figure confirmed and see a 2020 figure of R1,129,908. 

“This information is worrying. I have emailed the OSA and several other school leaders with questions about this money. I hope to meet with them soon and work with them to find answers. 

“It is important not to point fingers. Right now, the task is to ask some difficult questions and establish the facts,” concludes Macleod.

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