Two men accused of defrauding investors of over R1.8 billion in the BHI Trust scheme appeared in the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes Court on Monday toapply for bail. The hearing revealed startling allegations of money laundering through frequent casino visits by one of the defendants.

 

Extensive Casino Visits and Bets

According to Captain Ernest Khangale, the investigating officer in the case, defendant Sona Pillay visited the Sun City casino an astonishing 131 times between November 2019 and January 2024. During these visits, Pillay allegedly placed bets totalling nearly R800 million and withdrew a similar amount in cash and redeemable vouchers. The state contends that this was a means of laundering money stolen from BHI Trust investors.

 

Khangale stated in an affidavit, "Clearly, he disguised his unlawful conduct as a gambling habit." The court heard that Pillay's casino activities accounted for approximately half of the R1.8 billion lost by investors in the collapsed Ponzi scheme.

Defendants' Roles in BHI Trust

Sona Pillay and his co-defendant, Michael Phillip Adam Haldane, have been charged with fraud and money laundering concerning the BHI Trust case. Pillay served as the director of Rubicon Administrative Services (RAS), which performed administrative functions for BHI, including confirming investor deposits and facilitating withdrawals.

Haldane, the founder of Global and Local Investment Advisors, allegedly promoted and sold the BHI Trust as an investment vehicle. According to Khangale, although it was not, Haldane misled prospective investors by presenting BHI as a regulated fund manager.

Bail Granted Despite Flight Risk Concerns

Despite revelations that Haldane owned a residence in Malta, held a residency card in the European Union, and was married to a Japanese woman, the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes Court granted both defendants bail. The state did not oppose bail, believing that the pair did not pose a flight risk. Bail was set at R100,000 for each defendant, and the trial has been adjourned until October.