The former Lincoln accountant Russell Payne pleaded guilty to six charges of fraud when he appeared before the city’s Crown Court on Friday.
Payne, 61, formerly of Eastgate, Lincoln, but now living in Spain, had previously denied the charges and was due to stand trial in front of a jury in June.
On Friday, he appeared in court via video link and changed his pleas to guilty. The charges relate to frauds totalling £163,700 committed on different dates between June 1, 2015 and January 10, 2017.
Payne will be sentenced on June 11. He told the court he returned from Spain in time to spend two weeks in isolation before today’s (Friday’s) hearing and has given negative test results for COVID during the period. He said he plans to go back to Spain and return for his sentencing hearing.
Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight granted bail to Payne on condition that his solicitors notify the Crown Court on May 28 that he has returned to the UK and if he has not returned then they have to inform the court when he is coming back.
Matt Lawson, representing Payne, told the court: “Mr Payne has a job in Spain and a life there he needs to sort out. He is not a flight risk. He has been living in Spain now for a number of years. This is not a man seeking to go somewhere he has no connection.
“This man got into this mess and knows he will pay the penalty.”
Payne previously pleaded not guilty to a charge of concealing and transferring criminal property relating to credit balances of £763,799 between February 16, 2016 and January 11, 2017, knowing or suspecting them to be the proceeds of fraud. This charge was not put to him on Friday.
Payne also previously failed to disclose assets in the lead up to his bankruptcy, with £4.5 million of debt, official investigators found.
He told interviewers that between 2009 and 2016 he had borrowed sums of money from various parties to fund building ventures, supplement his income, repay existing debts and fund his long-term gambling addiction.
Mr Payne, who was head of Russell Payne & Co, was interviewed by the Insolvency Service Official Receiver after a Bankruptcy Order was made in June 2017.
He failed to disclose that he had disposed of assets in the lead up to the order being made. His full deficiency at the time he was declared bankrupt was £4,508,831.