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Ajax couple charged in $8M money laundering scheme

Last Updated Feb 17, 2017 at 1:48 pm EDT

Sukanya Panchalingam, 30, (left) and Balasubramaniam Shanjeefkaran, 35, of Ajax, were charged in February 2017, in connection with a fraud and money laundering scheme. HANDOUT/Toronto Police Service

A fraud-detection agent and her husband are two of 14 people charged in connection with a multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering investigation dubbed Project Fellowship.

Toronto police said the investigation started last June after a woman tried to cash a fake certified cheque at a money service business.

They soon learned many more fraudulent cheques with similar account information had been cashed at financial institutions.

“Later the banks learned that these cheques were worthless and the suspects and other people involved were able to get away with the funds,” Const. Michael Lane said at a news conference on Friday.

Police said “well over” $8 million had been lost or laundered over many years.

On Feb. 10, 2017, police arrested Balasubramaniam Shanjeefkaran, 35, and charged him with several offences, including fraud, possession of proceeds obtained by crime and laundering proceeds obtained by crime.

The following day, police raided his Ajax home and seized stolen merchandise, stolen IDs, fraudulent cheques, computers and phones.

“It was … revealed that the use of counterfeit or synthetic, fake identification was used to open up business accounts, personal accounts, get credit products, loans, anything in related to obtained funds,” Lane said.

“With those funds, they were able to get products that you can see here – vehicles, high-end vehicles, Mercedes, Land Rover, BMWs, heavy equipment.”

Lane said they opened up legitimate businesses with the Ontario government using fake names and then went to financial institutions with forged pay stubs saying they worked at the companies.

They used that information to buy vehicles, which they then transported to Quebec to be shipped elsewhere or put up for auction.

Sukanya Panchalingam, 30 – a bank fraud-detection agent – was arrested on Monday and charged with fraud, possession of proceeds obtained by crime and laundering proceeds obtained by crime.

Lane said 12 others had been arrested as part of the investigation, and police were working with immigration officials on the case.

The next court date is set for April.

Officers are concerned there may be more victims, including people and corporations. Police are asking anyone with information to call them or Crime Stoppers.

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