Toronto

3rd person charged in alleged $11M scheme to defraud Ontario COVID-19 relief fund

A third person is facing criminal charges in connection with an alleged embezzlement scheme that is said to have defrauded $11 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the Ontario government.

Vidhan Singh faces charges of fraud over $5,000 and money laundering

Days after arresting two former provincial employees in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud the Support for Families program, the Ontario Provincial Police have arrested a third person. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

A third person is facing criminal charges in connection with an alleged embezzlement scheme that is said to have defrauded $11 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the Ontario government.

Days after arresting two former provincial employees in relation to the alleged scheme to defraud the Support for Families program, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say they have now arrested a third person.

Vidhan Singh, 54, has been charged with fraud over $5,000, money laundering and possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.

Sanjay Madan and his wife, Shalini Madan, were arrested in connection with the alleged scheme on Sept. 18.

Province sues accused in alleged fraud

The province has sued Sanjay Madan, his wife and two adult children, alleging that they illegally issued and banked cheques under the Support for Families program, which aimed to offset the cost of kids learning at home.

It has also accused Madan of taking millions more in kickbacks in an alleged fraud worth more than $30 million.

In an amended statement of claim approved in January, the province alleged that Sanjay Madan received $10 million in secret commissions for steering government consulting contracts to certain companies he or an associate, Singh, controlled.

"Over the course of the past 10 years or more, the plaintiff paid out over $25 million pursuant to the resulting [fee for service contracts]," the unproven claim alleges.

The government alleges Singh paid Madan $5 million in commissions, while other companies paid Madan a further $5 million for government contracts.

Stephen Hebscher, Sanjay Madan's lawyer, said the Toronto resident was facing two counts of fraud over $5,000 and two counts of breach of trust.

Madan and his wife are also charged with laundering the proceeds of crime over $5,000 and possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000.

Madan, who had a senior IT role and helped develop a computer application related to a COVID-19 relief benefit, was fired in November. His wife and two sons all worked for the province in information technology.

The OPP say they began an investigation into the scheme in August 2020 after receiving a referral from the Ontario Ministry of Education.

"The size and scope of this fraud was significantly more complex than first identified," the OPP said in a statement.

Singh has been released from custody and is due in court to face the criminal charges on Nov. 18.

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