The investigation into the alleged misappropriation of $ 11 million in pandemic relief funds is being expanded to include past information technology projects at Queen’s Park, the Star has learned.
A Toronto couple and their two adult sons, all of whom worked as Ontario government computer specialists, were allegedly involved in the theft of millions of dollars in provincial COVID-19 aid.
Documents filed with the Ontario Superior Court indicate that “all or part” of Sanjay Madan, Shalini Madan, their sons Chinmaya Madan and Ujjawal Madan, and their partner Vidhan Singh allegedly committed “massive fraud” to channel money. money to hundreds of bank accounts.
In a statement, which has not been proven in court, the government alleges “damages for fraud, theft, conversion and conspiracy estimated to be at least $ 11 million”.
Sanjay Madan, director of the Department of Education’s iAccess Solutions Branch, was fired for his $ 176,608-a-year job earlier this month. He was the IT lead for the government’s Support for Families Online (SFFP) program, which distributed more than $ 300 million in the spring.
Families received $ 200 for each child under 12 and $ 250 for each child with special needs up to age 21. About 95% of the missing money was supposed to go to families with children with special needs.
The government statement alleges that Sanjay Madan knew “how he functioned, his strengths, vulnerabilities and possible gaps” in the program’s ability to verify the identity of those seeking help.
After the program launched in April, “more than 400 new accounts at the Bank of Montreal were opened in the name of the Madan respondents,” according to court documents.
More than $ 2.5 million in payments went to those accounts, while at least an additional $ 8 million went to TD accounts, according to the documents.
When asked in July about it, the documents indicate that Sanjay Madan did not claim that there was “some kind of error or technical problem on the part of the government, but rather … offered various incredible explanations or justifications for payments and… suggested that the funds be returned. ”
Ivana Yelich, director of media relations for Premier Doug Ford, confirmed Thursday that “a full investigation into the individual’s previous work while employed in the (Ontario Public Service) is underway. Classes”.
Det. Sean Chatland, who leads a team of seven OPP anti-racketeering investigators, said detectives “will follow the evidence.”
Although Chatland could not confirm that the Madans and Singh are the subject of the ongoing investigation, sources at Queen’s Park said that a separate KPMG audit looked at a large number of IT projects dating back to the less to 2010.
That year, Sanjay Madan was responsible for a $ 4 million project to revamp the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and grant application.
He has won IT World Canada awards for his efforts to improve the system that pays billions of dollars every year to hundreds of thousands of university and college students.
Former colleagues, who contacted the Star after learning about the investigation and spoke confidentially for fear of retaliation, said Sanjay Madan “was working closely with the same contractors on project after project.”
“On a large IT project, you have to hire contractors for about $ 100 an hour to meet deadlines,” said a former partner.
“Sanjay had his selection team and they were really separate from the other (IT) teams. He was very protective of them.
Another former colleague said: “Unfortunately, Sanjay was unwilling to share the names of the consultants with (our) team when asked. It was very strange.
A third person who worked closely with Sanjay Madan said, “He was always on the phone in his office dealing with his tenants because he owned so many properties around Toronto.
Through his lawyer, Christopher Du Vernet, Sanjay Madan did not comment on the allegations.
Shalini Madan, who earned $ 132,513 last year, is the director of e-ministry support at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. She was suspended with pay on August 11.
Chinmaya Madan was Technical Product Manager at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for three years before stepping down in August. His LinkedIn profile indicates that he now works at Microsoft in Seattle.
Neither Shalini Madan nor Chinmaya Madan responded to repeated calls or emails. The Star was unable to reach Singh, a resident of Richmond Hill.
In a brief interview, Ujjawal Madan, who worked as a government contract employee in his father’s team, said he was aware of the allegations regarding the family.
“I cannot comment at this time. Now is not a good time, ”said a master’s student at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta on Tuesday.
Officials at Georgia Tech, where tuition for its Masters program in Analysis School is $ 20,000 (US) per semester, contacted the Star to say the prestigious university takes the allegations seriously. .
“We spoke with his academic advisor and he’s a great student, but the student didn’t disclose this situation,” said Terrence Green of the Georgia Tech Career Center.
“We are not going to put the institution in jeopardy,” Green said, noting that students sign a strict “academic honor code” at the school to ensure that they “act according to the highest ethical standards. higher ”.
The university is now closely following the investigation.
Three weeks ago, the provincial government obtained a court injunction to freeze the assets of the Madan family.
In a Nov. 6 affidavit, Sanjay Madan said he was facing a cash flow crisis due to the freezing of his assets.
He said he couldn’t access the $ 1,031,407 he earned selling a North York property on September 29.
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