A South Australian builder who duped investors and councils by forging more than 200 insurance certificates has avoided jail time.

However, Che Carry Burrows’ business partner – the “mastermind” behind the scam – is yet to face court after he fled the country.

Burrows, 45, and another man started building company GNC Homes in 2011, which worked with the other man’s business IPG to offer home and land packages across Adelaide and surrounds.

Sentencing Burrows in the District Court on Thursday, Judge Paul Muscat said problems arose when IPG signed up more contracts than GNC was insured to build.

“This ultimately led to IPG devising a scheme to create false indemnity insurance certificates through a non-existent insurer,” he said.

The judge said Burrows was initially unaware of the fake insurance scheme, but became involved in 2012 while under pressure from clients and suppliers.

Building indemnity insurance protects the home owner if the builder dies, disappears or declares bankruptcy.

GNC Homes was placed into administration in July 2015, leaving the South Australian government to step in and finish work on 98 incomplete properties.

Burrows pleaded guilty to 45 counts of dishonestly dealing with documents relating to the forgery of 224 insurance certificates between 2012 and 2014.

Judge Muscat said the other man was the mastermind behind the scheme but he is believed to have fled to Israel.

However, he said Burrows’ long-running fraud was also extremely serious.

“Those certificates are relied upon by councils to approve building and development applications and, importantly, ensure home owners and investors are not exposed to financial risks,” he said.