The former head of the Hampshire-based disability charity Yateley Industries has admitted taking more than £250,000 from its pension scheme.
Patrick McLarry, 71, of Bere Alston in Devon, pleaded guilty at Salisbury Crown Court on Monday to fraud against the charity between March 2012 and February 2013.
At the time of the fraud, McLarry was chair and chief executive of the charity, which provides work opportunities and training for disabled people, and director of VerdePlanet Limited, which was the corporate trustee of the charity’s pension scheme.
McLarry used the money to buy homes in France and Hampshire and pay off personal debt, according to the Pensions Regulator.
The regulator, which brought the prosecution, will now seek a confiscation order for the £250,000 he took.
The regulator’s investigation found that, before the appointment of VerdePlanet, the pension scheme’s definitive deed had been amended, meaning it was unable to pursue McLarry for the money he later took.
McLarry also forged documents and refused to hand over evidence during the investigation, the regulator said.
A court case in 2017 meant that bank statements from McLarry were handed over to the Pensions Regulator, showing that the pension scheme’s funds had been used to purchase his home in France.
According to the regulator, Judge Andrew Barnett told the court that McLarry faced a "substantial" prison sentence as a result of his actions.
McLarry will be sentenced on 13 December.
The charity, which has a typical annual income of about £1.4m, said in its accounts for the year to 31 March 2018 that a new board was appointed after all the previous trustees resigned on 3 November 2017 and a full financial and organisation review was conducted.
Nicola Parish, executive director of front-line regulation at the Pensions Regulator, said: "McLarry posed as a pillar of the community while he was secretly working to steal for himself the pension savings of dozens of disabled workers.
"He lied repeatedly to try to muddy the waters around him, but our investigators cut through his attempts at deception to uncover the truth.
"This prosecution shows that we will do everything in our power to take action against those criminals who raid pension pots for their own gain."
The regulator dropped proceedings against McLarry’s wife Sandra, 59, who had previously been charged with four counts of money laundering.
The charity declined to comment.