A Surrey man convicted of defrauding a childhood friend of half a million dollars has had his restitution dropped to $250,000 on appeal.
In his provincial court trial, the court had heard that Ravinder Paul Mangat convinced his childhood friend and his wife to invest $500,000 into a purported investment scheme called the Privileged Investment Club. In reality, Mangat was using that money to support his lifestyle, which included lavish trips to Las Vegas and a cocaine habit, at a time when he was only earning $22,000 annually.
The Nov. 29 B.C. Court of Appeal decision said Mangat had worked in investor relations for a financial services firm for approximately 10 years. Then, in 2012, when he was no longer licensed as a financial adviser, he approached his friend, a Dr. Heran, with the fictitious investment scheme. Heran and his wife had been successful in their medical and dental practices and had funds available to invest.
“Relying on his close friendship with the appellant and representations of a 20% guaranteed annualized rate of return, Dr. Heran invested a total of $500,000 in the investment scheme in two tranches,” Justice Bruce Butler said in the appeal ruling. “The offence involved a serious breach of trust.”
At trial, the Crown was able to trace approximately $281,000 to travel and living expenditures. The balance, approximately $219,000, was taken out of the appellant’s bank account in cash, the court said.
Mangat represented himself at trial. However, he failed to show up on day two.
The provincial court judge found Mangat had voluntarily absented himself for the purpose of impeding or frustrating the trial or with the intention of avoiding its consequences. In January 2020, he was found guilty of two counts of fraud over $5,000 and ordered to pay back the $500,000 in full, and given a three-year prison sentence.
Mangat was appealing to have that restitution order dropped to $219,000 and his prison sentence reduced to two years.
In deciding if the original restitution order was appropriate, the three-judge panel factored in the seriousness of the crime, how the money was misused, as well as the unlikely ability for Mangat to ever be able to reimburse his victims. They also considered the fact that the victims had not pursued a civil case against Mangat, nor did they participate in his sentencing.
They found the prison sentence fair, but reduced the restitution by half.
“This balances the gravity of the offence and the degree of the appellant’s responsibility, and adequately considers the primary objectives of denunciation and deterrence,” said Butler. “On top of these objectives, which are also addressed by the custodial sentence, the restitution order addresses the objectives of providing reparations for the harm done to Dr. Heran and his wife, and promoting a sense of responsibility in Mr. Mangat.”