Sonray chief in guilty plea

The founder and sole director of collapsed broker Sonray Capital Markets has pleaded guilty to seven charges, including theft and fraud, after originally facing 24 charges.

The founder and sole director of collapsed broker Sonray Capital Markets has pleaded guilty to seven charges, including theft and fraud, after originally facing 24 charges.

Russell Andrew Johnson, 41, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to theft, fraud, false accounting, and submitting a false document to the corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Victorian Supreme Court judge Cameron Macaulay also lifted a suppression order that banned the publication of Johnson's guilty plea in May to a further three charges. The Toorak resident faces a maximum of 10 years' jail for each of the state offences of false accounting, theft and deception and a term of five years' imprisonment for submitting a false document to ASIC.

Sonray chief executive and Johnson's brother-in-law, Scott Murray, is serving a five-year jail term after pleading guilty in 2011 to fraud and theft offences. Sonray specialised in contracts for difference, or bets on the movement of stock prices. It collapsed in June 2010 with a shortfall to its 3500 clients of $46.7 million.

The charges relate to Johnson using client funds for personal use and to guard against margin calls from the company's financier Saxo. Johnson also told auditors a $5.2 million equity injection came from "a network of family and friends" rather than client accounts.

Johnson was granted bail and will appear at the Supreme Court on November 11 for a sentence hearing.

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