Pair receive jail terms in GST fraud case

Sikander Bath of Mission and Manjit Khangura of Abbotsford defrauded the government of millions of dollars from fake companies.

Two local men who defrauded the government of $10 million in GST refunds were sentenced to jail terms on Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

Sikander Bath, 57, of Mission received a sentence of four and a half years after previously being convicted of six counts of fraud over $5,000. Manjit Khangura, 41, of Abbotsford received a three-year term for three counts of fraud.

The two men were originally each charged with 20 counts of fraud and two counts of money laundering. They were found guilty in December of some of those charges during their trial.

A third man, Paramjit Gill, 55, previously pleaded guilty to three fraud offences and was sentenced in February to two years less a day in prison after agreeing to testify for the Crown.

The Crown had alleged that Khangura and Bath created 20 false companies purporting to export lumber, shake and shingle products between 1994 and 1997 and fraudulently claimed GST refunds of between $400,000 and $2.4 million each.

The judge ruled that 13 of those companies were proved by the Crown to be shams, while there was not enough proof that the other seven were also false.

Gill testified at the trial for Bath and Khangura that he signed incorporation documents and opened bank accounts for three of the false companies – Meadow Forest Products Ltd., Terminal Shake Ltd. and West Bay Shake Ltd. –  as well as conducted numerous banking transactions.

In exchange, he received a percentage of the GST refunds, amounting to about $400,000 in total.

He testified that he did not initially know that the companies were false or that the money was being fraudulently claimed.