PERTH, AAP – A disgraced West Australian public servant who stole more than $27 million from the state spent lavishly on his obsession with racehorses but ultimately left his family with nothing.

Paul Whyte, 58, is awaiting sentencing in the WA Supreme Court after pleading guilty to 564 corruption and money laundering charges.

He has admitted masterminding what the Corruption and Crime Commission has described as Australia’s biggest corruption by a public servant.

The former high-flyer appeared on Friday via videolink from custody, dressed in prison greens, as Justice Joseph McGrath heard sentencing submissions.

A prolific gambler, Whyte used his influential senior roles in WA’s public housing and communities departments to authorise payment of false invoices to shell companies which had bank accounts controlled by Whyte and another person.

Prosecutor Michael Cvetkoski said Whyte had engaged in “persistent, systematic and audacious corruption to obtain a significant benefit” over 11 years and six months before his arrest in 2019.

The total sum stolen from the state was more than $27.4 million and the personal benefit to Whyte exceeded $11 million.

“The state did not receive any services for the invoiced amounts,” the prosecutor said.

Several other people have been charged in relation to the offending but Whyte has accepted responsibility for the entirety of the theft, which he used to purchase a luxury property and an attempt to build a “horse-racing empire”.

“It was Mr Whyte who was the cause of this loss to the state,” Mr Cvetkoski said.

“Had it not been for the authorities, the offending is likely to have persisted.”

Whyte held interests in at least 111 racehorses and spent more than $3 million on purchasing, breeding and maintaining them.

Defence counsel Michael Tudori likened his client to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: a distinguished public service veteran who had a gambling addiction, a need to “big-note himself” and a love of the notoriety that came with his racehorse involvement.

At the time of his arrest, Whyte had $3500 in his bank account. Days later, he attempted to take his own life after being granted bail.

“This man has expressed to me … how sorry he is to the people of Western Australia and of course extreme sorrow to his family,” Mr Tudori said.

“At the end of all of this, his family is left with nothing.”

Whyte bowed his head as he heard of the impact on his wife and three children, who now live in a modest rental property following the forced sale of their home.

His teenage daughter had to endure the “absolute public shame” of his offending.

Mr Tudori said Whyte, who suffers from depression and other medical conditions, conceded a lengthy jail term was inevitable.

He said his client had shown genuine remorse and contrition, and had co-operated with authorities.

But prosecutors argued Whyte had not been “full and frank”, and had sought to minimise the actions of his alleged co-offenders, to the extent that it would be impossible for him to be called as a witness in any future trials.

Whyte will be sentenced later on Friday.

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