Two sons of the Ontario bureaucrat fired after the alleged theft of $11 million in COVID-19 relief funds are each suing Premier Doug Ford’s government for $1 million for “psychological” damages, the Star has learned.
Chinmaya Madan, 27, and Ujjawal Madan, 24, served the province with counter claims Friday charging the government’s “allegation of conspiracy” against them is “preposterous” and “has been advanced recklessly and maliciously.”
The brothers allege they are “victim(s) of identity theft committed by (their) own father,” because hundreds of bank accounts were opened in their names without their knowledge.
They say they are suffering from “anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder” due to the province’s “reckless and baseless” claims against them.
In that Ontario Superior Court filing, the province alleges last spring, “some or all of” Sanjay Madan, his spouse, Shalini Madan, their two sons, and associate Vidhan Singh embezzled millions in Support for Families payments to thousands of BMO, TD, RBC, Tangerine, and ICICI bank accounts.
Sanjay Madan was the information technology leader on the computer application for the pandemic fund that gave Ontario parents $200 per child under age 12, and $250 per child and youth under 21 with special needs for educational expenses.
He was terminated with cause in November from his $176,608-a-year job at the Ministry of Education.
Shalini Madan, who did not work on the Support for Families program and, like her sons, has denied any wrongdoing, was let go from her $132,513-a-year position as a Ministry of Government and Consumer Services computer manager.
The province’s claims have not been proven in civil court. The government did not have any immediate comment Friday about the counter suit.
An injunction has frozen some $28 million in Madan family assets, including $12.4 million in Indian bank accounts, an $8 million, 30-unit Waterloo student housing complex, a seven-bedroom house in North York valued at $2.57 million, six Toronto condominiums worth about $3 million, and $1 million in profit from selling a four-bedroom house.
The government also alleges Sanjay Madan was the kingpin in an elaborate $30 million “kickback scheme” before the pandemic through Ministry of Education computer consulting contracts.
No criminal charges have been laid, but seven Ontario Provincial Police detectives are investigating.
In their suit against the province — filed by lawyer Christopher Du Vernet, who is representing all four Madan family members — the sons say they are victims of the government’s “incompetence and indifference to waste and theft.”
“The (province’s) reckless and baseless allegations against him have led members of the public to believe that Chinmaya Madan is a member of a crime family whose members have devoted their entire adult lives to stealing from the public purse,” states the counter claim, which insists they have never met Vidhan Singh, an associate of their father.
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Their suit says the government “knew, or ought to have known, that unscrupulous individuals, including potentially its own employees, might try to exploit weaknesses in its security measures to take money.”
They also allege “negligence” on the part of senior Ministry of Education bureaucrats who “failed to provide proper instructions to applicants who received payments in their bank accounts erroneously.”
As well, top civil servants were “negligent in failing to properly supervise Sanjay Madan to ensure that he did not use the (government’s) computer systems to commit identity theft and fraud, thereby causing damage to” his sons.
Chinmaya and Ujjawal, who worked at low-level IT jobs at Queen’s Park until leaving voluntarily last summer, are each seeking $1 million in damages from the government for “psychological injury.”
In their claims they say their symptoms include: “weight fluctuations; frequent illness; lethargy; nightmares; difficulty sleeping; inability to leave the house; feelings of crushing sadness; anxiety and fear; difficulty concentrating; feeling numb and disconnected from the world; (and) extreme mood swings.”
In addition, Chinmaya is seeking $108,713 “for amounts wrongly seized or frozen by” the government while Ujjawal seeks $25,870.69 for seized assets.
Du Vernet said Friday the brothers “are victims not only of Sanjay Madan, but of the provincial government’s woefully inadequate systems.”
“The three Madans — like all Ontarians — had a right to expect the provincial government would have better safeguards,” the lawyer said, referring also to Shalini, who has not launched any legal action against the province.
To that end, “the three Madans believe that the provincial government is the author of its own misfortune; it let literally thousands of people rob it blind,” he said.
“It did nothing to stop wholesale fraud and it told no one when fraud began; it simply watched it happen,” said Du Vernet, adding Shalini, Chinmaya, and Ujjawal “have been made scapegoats for the government’s own misconduct and neglect.”
“We look forward to finding out who at the provincial government knew about program fraud, when they knew it, and what, if anything, they did about it,” he said.
“The Ford government needs to come clean about what it did, and didn’t do to protect taxpayers’ money. A pandemic is no excuse for incompetence and wilful blindness; if anything it makes vigilance even more important.”
Sanjay Madan, who owns two villas in Hyderabad, India, holds Canadian and Indian passports, even though India does not permit dual citizenship. He also has permanent residency status in Panama, a tax haven that has no extradition treaty with Canada.
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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