Former CFO sentenced to more than 6 years for bilking $4.2M from Winnipeg crane company

A man who defrauded a Winnipeg crane company out of over $4 million was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison Tuesday morning. 

Peter Ramdath used money stolen from R. Litz and Sons over 5 years to pay for luxury cars, lavish wedding

Peter Ramdath, shown in this still from a video taken on his wedding day, used company credit cards and fraudulent payroll transactions to steal over $4 million from his employer. (Court exhibit)

A man who defrauded a Winnipeg crane company out of over $4 million was sentenced to six and a half years in prison Tuesday morning. 

Peter Ramdath, 44, was the chief financial officer at  R. Litz and Sons Company Ltd., a crane and rigging company that has since closed and been forced into bankruptcy.

"I regret what I have done," Ramdath told the court before he was sentenced on Tuesday, after pleading guilty earlier this year to one count of fraud over $5,000.

"I apologize to the Litz family and everyone else affected by my actions."

Provincial court Judge Victoria Cornick heard Ramdath was made CFO despite not having any accounting qualifications, and was "trusted implicitly" by the Litz family. 

The thefts took place over the span of five years. After experiencing cash flow problems, the company hired an accounting firm in 2017 to conduct an audit, which pointed to fraud. 

Ramdath was arrested in January 2019, after police searched his home in East St. Paul and seized luxury items including jewelry, clothing, electronics and vehicles.

WATCH | Video from Peter Ramdath's 2014 wedding:

Extravagant tastes

3 years ago
Duration 0:42
Video from Peter Ramdath's 2014 wedding, which was described as "a lavish affair," was entered as evidence in his criminal case. 0:42

It was discovered that Ramdath had misappropriated over $4.2 million using company credit cards and fraudulent payroll transactions. He spent the money on his own now-defunct businesses, as well as on own personal expenses including travel, a wedding and entertainment, the court heard.

Video of the wedding, which was described in court as "a lavish affair," was entered as evidence in his criminal case.

Ramdath owned several luxury cars and was known amongst his friends for having extravagant tastes, spending money on designer clothes, a private jet to Dubai, and parties on yachts. 

At the time of his resignation in 2017, Ramdath's salary was $85,000.

Theft 'devastated a family company': judge

His lawyer, Richard Wolson, said during the time since his arrest, Ramdath has sought counselling for his gambling addiction and became a devoted father to his two young children.

"Peter has found religion. He's become a very present father," Wolson told the court.

"His children are everything to him."

Wolson also said Ramdath has experienced health complications, and his marriage ended.

The court heard Ramdath used company funds to pay for personal expenses. Ramdath owned several luxury vehicles, including this McLaren sports car. (Court exhibit)

Christine Proulx-Litz, whose husband ran the company along with his father, read a victim impact statement to the court.

She said the family was financially ruined after they sold their homes and spent their life savings trying to keep the company afloat.

"Most days I have a hard time getting out of bed," she said in the victim impact statement.

Proulx-Litz said she dreamt about the day she would run the company alongside her husband.

"When the company died a piece of me went with it."

The judge called the amount of money taken "staggering" and said "it devastated a family company and destroyed it."

"This case is an example of how a non-violent offence can have very similar effects on victims," Judge Cornick said.

While the charge carried a mandatory minimum sentence of two years and a maximum of 14 years, the judge accepted the joint recommendation of six and a half years, which Cornick described as "a significant sentence, particularly for a 44-year-old man with no prior record who has a young family."

In addition to jail time, Ramdath was also ordered to pay restitution to the family.