A former Ontario government employee who defrauded the province of more than $47 million over a decade has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges fraud, breach of trust and money laundering.
Sanjay Madan, who served as an IT director within the Ministry of Education, agreed that he “abused his position to defraud the Ontario government” by overseeing two complicated schemes to bilk millions of dollars from taxpayers.
“He’s taking responsibility for everything,” Madan’s lawyer Chris Sewratan told Global News. “He feels sorry for his crimes.”
As part of the guilty plea, Madan agreed to re-pay the entire $47 million, $30 million of which, his lawyers say was immediately returned to the Ontario government, while the remainder can be repaid over the next 15 years.
The years-long deception first came to the government’s attention during the COVID-19 pandemic when the Ford government set up the support for students fund to give parents a one-time payment of $200 per child to offset the costs of learning from home during the pandemic.
Madan, who had access to the internal processing portal, siphoned off more than 43,000 support payments into 2,841 bank accounts under his name — taking $10.8 million from the fund.
“I’ve never seen it before,” said the OPP’s Jeff Cowan, the lead investigator in the case. “It’s a lot of work for a fraudster.”
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“Instead of doing one large fraud that would pay off millions of dollars he chose to do tens of thousands of small frauds to come to the same result,” Cowan said.
While the money was transferred into accounts bearing the names of his wife, two sons and other family members, Madan’s lawyer said his guilty plea was designed to serve as a signal that he alone bore responsibility for the theft.
“He wanted to make clear that he did this,” Sewratan said. “He used the names of his wife and two sons but they’ve been implicated in news reports and he wants to make clear that it was him and him alone.”
The charges against his wife were withdrawn.
The investigation into the pandemic funds fraud then uncovered a larger nine-year scheme in which Madan received profits of $36.6 million.
According to an agreed statement, he set up a complex fee-for-service consultancy fraud in 2011 in which contracts were being handed out to “dummy” consultants, while millions in taxpayer money was actually funnelled into bank accounts controlled by Madan.
Madan’s lawyer said he apologized to the taxpayers, the Ontario government, his family and colleagues for the crimes.