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Prominent Mississauga executive charged for alleged $3-million fraud

A prominent Mississauga executive who frequently dispensed business advice in national media outlets was charged Wednesday for his alleged involvement in a $3-million fraud.

On Wednesday, officers with the Peel Regional Police Fraud Bureau arrested 44-year-old Hari Venkatacharya on a charge of defrauding the public.

Investigators allege that Mr. Venkatacharya posed as a representative for a foreign investment group in the United Arab Emirates and offered to arrange loans for several Canadian companies ranging from $20-million to $250-million.

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In each case he requested a "due diligence fee" to finalize the loan. When the fee was paid, the loans never materialized, according to police.

Neither Mr. Venkatacharya nor his wife, choreographer and Order of Canada recipient Lata Pada, answered calls late Friday.

In a bio submitted to a small-business summit sponsored by The Globe and Mail, Mr. Venkatacharya touts an extensive executive résumé that includes positions with fertilizer company Kozgro, IT security firm Karthika Technologies and gaming console maker ZAPit.

He is also well-known among not-for-profit circles in the GTA as co-founder of the South Asian advisory committee at the Royal Ontario Museum and former board member of Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network.

According to the bio, his commentary has appeared on CBC, CTV, as well as in the pages of the National Post and Toronto Star. He has penned three comment pieces for The Globe and Mail focusing on IT security and business prospects in India.

A 2012 lawsuit sheds some light on the alleged scam. In it, a company called Complex Sportivo alleges that Mr. Venkatacharya and several other defendants promised a $235-million loan from a Dubai group to fund Sportivo's ambitious blueprints for a top-flight soccer training complex in York Region. But after Sportivo paid a $77,000 due diligence fee, the offer was cancelled. The fee was never reimbursed, even after Mr. Venkatacharya consented to a judge's order for a full repayment.

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