A second senior information technology employee has been fired from the Ontario government after the alleged theft of $11 million in pandemic relief funds, the Star has learned.
Shalini Madan was terminated with cause from her $132,513-a-year job as manager of E-Ministries Support at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
She had been suspended with pay since Aug. 11.
Her dismissal came after her husband, Sanjay Madan, was sacked from his $176,608-a-year post as director in the Ministry of Education’s iAccess Solutions Branch in early November.
In documents filed with the Ontario Superior Court, the province alleges that “some or all of” Shalini Madan, Sanjay Madan, their sons Chinmaya Madan and Ujjawal Madan, and associate Vidhan Singh perpetrated “a massive fraud” to siphon COVID-19 aid payments to hundreds of Bank of Montreal and TD accounts.
The government, whose accusations have not been proven in court, alleges “damages for fraud, theft, conversion, and conspiracy in an amount estimated to be at least $11 million,” from the Support for Families program.
That’s the April initiative that gave parents $200 for each child up to age 12 and $250 for each special needs child and youth up to age 21 to offset pandemic-related education expenses.
It is alleged that “approximately 95 per cent” of the missing funds had been earmarked for the families of special-needs kids.
All four Madans were working as computer specialists at Queen’s Park until August.
In a statement to the Star, Ivana Yelich, director of media relations for Premier Doug Ford, confirmed “ Shalini Madan is no longer employed with the Ontario Public Service.”
Shalini Madan’s lawyer, Scott Pearl, said Wednesday that “my client will not be commenting.”
Last week, her younger son Ujjawal Madan, who worked as a government contract employee on his father’s team, said the family was aware of the allegations against them.
“I cannot comment at this time. It’s not a good time,” Ujjawal Madan said Nov. 24 from Atlanta, where he is a master’s student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Tuition at the prestigious school can cost $20,000 (U.S.) per semester.
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A team of seven detectives from the Ontario Provincial Police Anti-Rackets Branch is investigating, but no criminal charges have been laid.
In the government’s civil court action to freeze any sale of the family’s assets — including seven Toronto properties and more than $1 million in profit from selling an eighth home in September — it’s alleged Sanjay Madan “used his in-depth knowledge” as the Support for Families computer application’s IT leader “to direct an unauthorized rule change to allow for fraudulent … payments.”
Through both his civil lawyer, Christopher Du Vernet, and his criminal lawyer, Stephen Hebscher, he has not commented on the allegations.
The government has alleged that when it “collected its government-issued phones from Sanjay and Chinmaya, the phones had been reset by these defendants to their factory settings and/or had their government profiles removed, which may permanently delete all the data from their phones.”
“They took these steps in order to conceal and profit from their wrongful conduct and injure the (government),” the province alleges in its court submission.
“The defendants’ misconduct, including their efforts to conceal it, demonstrates high handed, wanton and callous disregard for the rights and interests of the (government), which has, as a result, suffered significant losses, both from a financial and reputational perspective.”
Even digital records are supposed to be preserved under Ontario law.
Chinmaya Madan was technical product manager at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for three years before resigning in August. He now works for Microsoft in Seattle.
His lawyer Louie Genova said he cannot comment on the matter.
Vidhan Singh, a Madan associate who is alleged to have received 170 support payments worth $42,500 to 30 new Bank of Montreal accounts opened in June, has also not commented through his lawyer, Christoph Pike.
Earlier this week, the premier announced a revamped, renamed Support for Learners program.
“We’ve introduced stronger security measures on these payments to ensure this never ever happens again … including spot audits, introducing additional qualification rules, (and) implementing stronger bank validations,” Ford said Monday.
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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