OPP indicts fourth person in connection with alleged theft of $ 11 million from provincial COVID-19 relief funds

Ontario Provincial Police have charged a fourth person in connection with the alleged theft of $ 11 million in provincial COVID-19 relief funds.

In a move suggesting an expansion of the one-year criminal investigation into pandemic fraud, OPP brought two charges against Manish Gambhir, 41, a Brampton computer specialist.

Gambhir was charged Tuesday with possession of an identity document related, or allegedly related, to another person and with possession of stolen property.

OPP Detective Sgt. Sean Chatland, who leads the seven-member team investigating the case, said the size and scope of the investigation is “significantly more complex” than initially identified.

“The investigation team has worked very hard to hold those responsible to account,” Chatland said Thursday.

Gambhir, who was released and will appear in court on November 10, was not immediately available for comment.

The latest charges follow those filed earlier this month against married couple Sanjay and Shalini Madan and their partner Vidhan Singh, all from Toronto.

Police charged Sanjay Madan with two counts of fraud and two counts of breach of trust. He and his wife, Shalini Madan, were also charged with possession of stolen property and laundering of proceeds of crime.

Singh was charged with money laundering, fraud and possession of stolen property.

Both Madans were fired last year as information technology managers at Queen’s Park.

Singh and the Madans, as well as their adult children, Chinmaya and Ujjawal Madan, who are not facing charges in the criminal case, have been in civil court since last fall for the alleged theft of $ 11 million in COVID-19 relief funds. .

A publication ban protects the details of the criminal case.

But in separate civil filings from the Ontario Superior Court, the province alleges that “some or all” the Madans and Singh funneled millions into thousands of accounts at TD, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Tangerine, and the ICICI Bank of India in spring 2020..

Neither the criminal nor civil charges against Madans and Singh have been proven in court.

Gambhir’s name has not appeared in the civil case.

Sanjay Madan was fired 11 months ago as a technology leader of $ 176,608 a year in the Family Support initiative of the Ministry of Education.

That program gave Ontario parents $ 200 per child under 12 and $ 250 per child and youth under 21 with special needs to help with online education costs at the start of the pandemic.

In civil court testimony, which cannot be used in the criminal case if you violate Rights protected by the Charter against self-incrimination, Sanjay Madan admitted that he “relaxed” computer security so that additional payments could be made to the same bank accounts.

Under oath on January 8, he testified that it was “a free-flow program” and “there were many loopholes.”

“I thought there might be an opportunity to get the funds … it seemed like easy money,” the former bureaucrat said.

Wife Shalini Madan was laid off last fall from her IT manager position at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for $ 132,513 a year.

She has denied any involvement in the alleged theft of $ 11 million and is suing Queen’s Park for wrongful termination.

A government court order has frozen $ 28 million in Madan family assets in Canada and India.

That includes $ 12.4 million in Indian bank accounts, an $ 8 million apartment complex in Waterloo, a seven-bedroom house in North York valued at $ 2.57 million, and six Toronto condos valued at around $ 3 million. .

In the civil case, Crown attorneys allege that Sanjay Madan was the “ringleader” of a sophisticated scheme that allegedly had stolen $ 30 million during the decade prior to the pandemic.

“This is not just about fraud regarding the Family Support program, but also bribery regarding the hiring of fee-for-service consultants,” province attorney Christopher Wayland told civil court in August. .

Wayland alleged in court that Sanjay Madan and Vidhan Singh ran a consulting business that hired computer contractors and paid “secret commissions” to favored vendors.

Singh has denied that accusation.

Robert Benzie is the bureau chief for Star’s Queen’s Park and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


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