Sikander Singh Bath, of Mission, and Manjit Singh Khangura, of Abbotsford, were found guilty of six counts and three counts of fraud for fraudulently claiming and receiving more than $23 million in refunds for GST input tax credits. A co-accused, Paramjit Gill, pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud before the trial began and made a plea agreement with Crown that included testifying against Bath and Khangura.
ABBOTSFORD – Two Indo-Canadian men from Abbotsford and Mission have been convicted of fraud charges in connection with a series of scams that defrauded the federal government of millions in GST refunds.
Sikander Singh Bath, of Mission, and Manjit Singh Khangura, of Abbotsford, were found guilty of six counts and three counts of fraud over $5,000, respectively, reported the Province newspaper.
They each faced 20 fraud charges and two charges of money laundering, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled in her decision in New Westminster Thursday morning.
The charges relate to incidents dating from 1995 to 1997.
The Crown alleged that Bath, Khangura and others created or acquired 20 companies during that time and fraudulently claimed and received more than $23 million in refunds for GST input tax credits.
Crown alleged that the companies — which claimed to have made large exports of lumber, shake and shingle products — were shams and never did any real business. The amounts of the alleged frauds ranged from $400,000 to $2.3 million.
However, Justice Heather Holmes said in her 104-page judgment that only 13 companies were proven to be shams.
“The circumstances concerning the other indictment companies are highly suspicious, but in my view do not provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt that those companies were shams and therefore claimed and received their GST refunds fraudulently,” Holmes wrote.
Holmes said she found that Bath played “at least a meaningful role” in six of the fake companies — Classic Forest Products Ltd., Highview Cedar Products Ltd., L.P. Cedar Products Ltd., Midway Shake Co. Ltd., Riverview Forest Products Ltd. and Terminal Shake Ltd. — and was a party to the frauds either by committing them or aiding in their commission.
Khangura was party to frauds involving Classic Forest Products Ltd., North Bay Forest Products Ltd. and Unity Forest Products Ltd. The judge ruled the money-laundering charges were not proven.
A co-accused, Paramjit Gill, pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud before the trial began and made a plea agreement with Crown that included testifying against Bath and Khangura.
The agreement allowed for a joint sentencing submission of two years less a day in jail and a large fine after Gill’s testimony. Gill is scheduled to be sentenced in February.
After Holmes’ decision defence lawyer Kevin Drolet, who represents Bath, said he was considering filing an application because his client was not tried in a reasonable amount of time. Bath and Khangura were first charged in 2002 and the case went to trial in October 2009.
If Drolet decides to make the application, arguments will be heard at the end of January.
A sentencing hearing for both Bath and Khangura has been set for Feb. 9 and 10 next year.
Courtesy The Province