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Sonray chief pleads guilty to fraud, theft

THE chief executive of failed stockbroker Sonray, Scott Murray, was in custody yesterday after pleading guilty to 10 fraud and theft charges over the collapse of the broker, which left clients out of pocket by almost $47 million.

THE chief executive of failed stockbroker Sonray, Scott Murray, was in custody yesterday after pleading guilty to 10 fraud and theft charges over the collapse of the broker, which left clients out of pocket by almost $47 million.

Prosecutor Greg Lyon, SC, told the Victorian Supreme Court that Murray, 33, of Werribee, should be jailed for up to 4? years, reflecting a discount of the "highest calibre" for co-operation with authorities.

Dr Lyon said that in addition to giving "full and frank" admissions to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and a

"very early" indication he would plead guilty, Murray had promised

to give evidence against his brother-in-law, Sonray founder Russell Johnson.

The court heard that while some proceeds from the fraud were lost through trading, Murray pocketed tens of thousands and lent

$400,000 to recruitment company Swann Global, run by his father, John. John Murray repaid the money in October.

In pleading guilty yesterday, Murray also admitted making $6.85 million in unfunded deposits fake deposits not backed by money into Johnson's Sonray account in the first half of 2009.

The court heard that victims of the collapse included Murray's Melbourne Grammar school friend, prominent developer Will Deague, from whom Murray stole $1.99 million.

Murray also made false transactions in accounts belonging to two school friends, Carey Anderson and James Andronis, as he tried to keep Sonray from falling into margin call with its bank, Saxo.

Saxo Bank financed and processed client transactions for Sonray's main product, contracts for difference over stocks and foreign exchange.

Murray's counsel, Robert Richter, QC, told the court Saxo was aware of the "hedging" transactions, which occurred in 2008 and 2009.

"He [Murray] has uncovered emails from Saxo Bank that show they knew about the hedging and they were concerned about it," Mr Richter said.

Mr Richter said mediation between Saxo Bank and Sonray's liquidator, Ferrier Hodgson, was

still under way but he expected the bank would make "significant contributions" towards a pool of money for victims of the collapse.

Victims could expect 30? in the dollar but there was the possibility of a "far higher recovery", he said.

Calling for Murray to serve a sentence of two years, Mr Richter painted a portrait of his client as a man who could not say no to Johnson, "his mentor and elder brother-in-law but also his boss in every way that it mattered".

Dr Lyon said that Murray was similar to Opes Prime chief executive Laurie Emini, who pleaded guilty to company law offences last week, in that both men had promised to give evidence against alleged co-offenders and had provided authorities with "road maps" laying out their crimes.

The Crown put forward sentences at the lower end of the possible range for both men between 3? and 4? years for Murray and between 12 and 17 months for Emini.

Justice Lex Lasry remanded Murray to be sentenced at a date to be fixed.


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