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Manitoba businessman gets 2 more years in jail for defrauding 2 provinces


WINNIPEG - A businessman who defrauded the Manitoba and New Brunswick governments of more than $3.5 million has been sentenced to two more years in prison.
Balu Kuriya, 67, was president of Calwest Textiles when, between 1992 and 1997, he signed three loan contracts with the Manitoba provincial government totalling $3.6 million.
Court heard Thursday that Kuriya fabricated invoices and doctored receipts to make it appear as if he had spent all the money on equipment upgrades for his textile plant in Portage la Prairie, Man.
In some instances, the invoices and receipts were for equipment that didn't exist. In others, the paperwork inflated the value of equipment purchased.
Calwest repaid one $500,000 loan before filing for bankruptcy in 1998.
Thursday's sentence was on top of a two-year sentence Kuriya has already served for a similar $840,000 fraud committed in New Brunswick between 1993 and 1995.
The Manitoba fraud was the largest suffered by the provincial government in 20 years, court was told at a sentencing hearing earlier this year.
Defence lawyer Jeff Gindin had argued the two frauds constituted one crime and Kuriya should not be sentenced to any additional jail time.
Crown attorney Don Melnyk countered that if Kuriya been sentenced for both frauds at the same time, the Crown would have sought a sentence of at least five years.
Justice Doug Abra rejected a defence request for a conditional sentence to served in the community, noting that would be "overly lenient" given the "sophistication and premeditation" of the crimes.
Abra ordered Kuriya to pay $2.8 million in restitution.

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