An appeal has been granted for a Mission man sentenced to four and a half years in prison for his role in a GST fraud scam.
Sikander Singh Bath, 57, is appealing both his sentence and conviction on six counts of fraud. He has been released from prison, pending the outcome of the proceedings.
Bath was convicted in December 2011 and sentenced in April, along with co-accused Manjit Khangura, 41, of Abbotsford who received a three-year prison term for three counts of fraud.
The two men were originally each charged with 20 counts of fraud and two counts of money laundering. The Crown had alleged the pair 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 Bath was involved in six of the sham companies, collecting approximately $400,000 in false claims.
Bath’s lawyer argued an appeal should be granted because Bath was convicted on mostly circumstantial evidence, and the trial judge erred by relying on evidence from co-accused Paramjit Gill.
Gill, 55, entered into an arrangement with Crown and received two years less a day in prison after pleading guilty to three fraud offences. In exchange, he testified at the trial for Bath and Khangura.
Bath was convicted on grounds that were “unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence,” according to his lawyer.
B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Christopher Hinkson granted the appeal and agreed that Bath should be released from prison in the meantime, saying he poses no public safety risk and previously followed the terms of his bail while awaiting trial.
A date for the appeal proceedings has not yet been set.