Criminal trial of Ontario bureaucrats fired in alleged $11M COVID-19 fraud to begin next year

The criminal trial of two former Ontario bureaucrats charged in the alleged theft of $11 million in pandemic relief funds is expected to begin on Sept. 11, 2023 and last for seven weeks.

Sanjay and Shalini Madan, a married couple fired from the provincial public service in 2020 in the wake of the alleged theft, appeared in a Toronto court in Wednesday before Justice Maureen Forestell to set a trial date.

They have chosen to have a trial by judge and jury.

Last September, Ontario Provincial Police charged Sanjay Madan with two counts of fraud and two counts of breach of trust.

He and Shalini Madan also face charges of laundering the proceeds of crime and possession of stolen property.

Two other men have also been charged in the case, but are being tried separately from the Madans.

Toronto’s Vidhan Singh was charged with money laundering, fraud and possession of stolen property. Manish Gambhir of Brampton was charged with possession of stolen property and possession of an identity document related — or purported to relate — to another person.

Sanjay Madan was represented in court Wednesday by lawyer Ashley Sewrattan and Shalini Madan by lawyer Alison Shields.

The criminal proceedings against the Madans are separate from an ongoing civil suit filed by the province of Ontario.

In Ontario Superior Court filings, Queen’s Park alleges that “some or all of” the Madans, their adult sons, Chinmaya and Ujjawal, and Singh, funneled millions of dollars to thousands of Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, TD, Tangerine, and India’s ICICI bank accounts in spring 2020.

Chinmaya and Ujjawal have not been charged in the criminal matter.

The province’s allegations against the Madans and Singh have not been proven in civil court.

As first disclosed by the Star, Sanjay Madan was fired in November 2020 from a $176,608-a-year job as the Ministry of Education’s information technology leader on the Support for Families program.

That fund gave parents $200 per child under age 12 and $250 per child and youth under 21 with special needs to offset online educational expenses.

In January 2021 civil court testimony, which may not be used against him in the criminal action if it violates his charter-protected rights against self-incrimination, Sanjay Madan said he “relaxed” computer security to enable more payments to be made to the same bank accounts.

Under oath, he said Support for Families was “a free-flowing program” with “a lot of loopholes.”

“I thought there may be an opportunity to take the funds out … it looked like easy money for me.”

Shalini Madan, sacked from her $132,513-a-year job as a Ministry of Government and Consumer Services computer specialist, is suing Queen’s Park for wrongful dismissal, seeking more than $5 million in damages.

Chinmaya and Ujjawal Madan, who voluntarily resigned from lower-level provincial government computer jobs two years ago, are each suing the government for $1 million, citing “psychological” harm by being named in the civil action.

A provincial government court injunction, sought during the civil case, has frozen $28 million in Madan family assets in Canada and India.

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

The province alleges in the civil case that Sanjay Madan was the “ringleader” of an elaborate “kickback” scheme with Singh involving the procurement of computer consultant contracts that allegedly stole an additional $30 million dating back to 2010.

Singh has denied that allegation.

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


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