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Court freezes 7 properties owned by family members allegedly involved in theft of COVID-19 relief funds


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Court freezes 7 properties owned by family members allegedly involved in theft of COVID-19 relief funds

A court order is blocking any sales of seven Toronto properties owned by the family members alleged to have been involved in the theft of $11 million in COVID-19 relief funds, the Star has learned.

Six condominium units and a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom home in North York are now subject to a court-ordered “no dealings indicator on the title,” meaning they cannot be sold or the ownership transferred.

As first revealed by the Star, the Ontario government alleges that “some or all of” Sanjay Madan, Shalini Madan, their sons Chinmaya Madan and Ujjawal Madan, and associate Vidhan Singh perpetrated “a massive fraud” to direct pandemic cash to hundreds of bank accounts.

Documents filed with the Ontario Superior Court allege “damages for fraud, theft, conversion, and conspiracy in an amount estimated to be at least $11 million,” which was deposited into accounts at TD and the Bank of Montreal.

That cash was part of the $300 million Support for Families program that paid parents $200 for each child under age 12 and $250 for each child with special needs up to age 21. It was designed to help with in-home learning during the pandemic.

The Madans all worked as Ontario government computer specialists.

Seven detectives from Ontario Provincial Police Anti-Rackets Branch are investigating, but no criminal charges have been laid.

The allegations in the government’s statement of claim have not been proven in court.

“This court orders that the defendants … are restrained from directly or indirectly, by any means whatsoever selling, removing, dissipating, alienating, transferring, assigning, encumbering, or similarly dealing with any assets of the defendants, wherever situated in Ontario,” the injunction stipulates.

The order will remain in place until a judge rules it can be lifted.

Among the properties affected is a Kingsdale Avenue home the Madans purchased in August 2011 for $1.64 million.

Also subject to “no-dealing” orders are three condos at 44 St. Joseph St., two units at 62 Wellesley St. W., and a 1,453 square-foot penthouse at 5785 Yonge St. which was purchased for $505,000 by Chinmaya Madan in October 2018.

Chinmaya Madan, who now works at Microsoft in Seattle, also bought one of the St. Joseph units in February 2016, paying $580,000 for the 889 square-foot condo.

Property records show one of the Wellesley units was purchased for $616,000 in July 2015 by Ujjawal Madan, currently a master’s student at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Five of the six condos are just steps from Queen’s Park.

Proceeds from the sale of a four-bedroom, four-bathroom North York home by Sanjay Madan in September, which netted a profit of $1,031,407, are also subject to the court order freezing his assets.

However, a judge has granted him restricted access to $139,000 of that money from the sale of the Deering Cres. property to pay his legal fees. That money is now held in trust by the law firm Du Vernet Stewart.

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Through his lawyer, Christopher Du Vernet, Sanjay Madan has not commented on the allegations.

In the government’s action, it is alleged he “used his in-depth knowledge” as the information technology leader on the Support for Families computer application to “to direct an unauthorized rule change to allow for fraudulent … payments.”

“Sanjay has not denied that he obtained millions of dollars to which he was not entitled, but rather has provided unreasonable explanations, while also acknowledging that the money should be returned,” the court documents say.

Sanjay Madan was a director in the Ministry of Education’s iAccess Solutions Branch before being fired with cause earlier this month. He earned $176,608 in 2019.

His wife, Shalini Madan, who made $132,513 last year, is the manager of E-Ministries Support at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. She was suspended with pay on Aug. 11.

Chinmaya Madan was technical product manager at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for three years before resigning in August.

Neither Shalini Madan nor Chinmaya Madan have responded to repeated calls or emails seeking comment.

In a brief interview on Tuesday, Ujjawal Madan, who worked as a government contract employee on his father’s team, told the Star he was aware of the allegations involving the family.

“I cannot comment at this time. It’s not a good time,” he said.

Their associate, Vidhan Singh, who is alleged to have received 170 support payments worth $42,500 to 30 new Bank of Montreal accounts opened in June, has not been available for comment.

The Richmond Hill man’s lawyer, Christoph Pike, said he could not comment when reached on Friday.

Investigators are now looking into past projects led by Sanjay Madan, who won IT World Canada awards for leading the $4 million initiative to revamp the Ontario Student Assistance Program loan and grant disbursement application.

That program disburses billions of dollars each year in loans and grants to hundreds of thousands of university and college students.

Six former colleagues have contacted the Star since reading about the investigation.

Speaking confidentially for fear of reprisals, all said Sanjay Madan was very selective about the outside contractors and subcontractors whom he retained.

Each former colleague noted he almost always worked with the same contractors.

With files from the Toronto Star library

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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