B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture is suing a man who pleaded guilty to turning his penthouse apartment into a makeshift nightclub in January in violation of B.C.’s COVID-19 restrictions.
A B.C. Supreme Court notice of civil claim filed Monday alleges that $8,740 seized by Vancouver police when they raided Mohammad Movassaghi’s suite should be considered the proceeds of crime because the money was used to engage in unlawful activities — including disobeying public health orders.
The lawsuit is the latest legal twist in a drama that began months ago when police announced they had arrested the 42-year-old after weeks of calls from neighbours who complained about a constant stream of visitors attending his $3 million suite for weekend parties.
In April, Movassaghi became the first person sentenced in B.C. for breaching orders under the Public Health Act meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Waivers acknowledged ‘contagious nature’ of COVID-19
At Movassaghi’s sentencing, a Crown prosecutor said police entered his unit with a search warrant on Jan. 31 and found 78 people packed “shoulder to shoulder” with a number of people gathered around a stripper pole watching a topless woman.
The lawsuit claims police also identified a number of people in attendance at the party who are associated with organized crime.
Movassaghi was sentenced to one day in jail on a joint recommendation from his lawyer and the Crown. He was released because he had already spent that much time in custody awaiting bail.
At the time of his sentencing, Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Ellen Gordon told Movassaghi that “If someone who had been at your party was infected and died, as far as I’m concerned, you’re guilty of manslaughter.”
The notice of civil claim suggests Movassaghi had actually thought of that possibility.
According to the court document, police seized both blank and endorsed “COVID-19 waiver” forms.
The waivers allegedly required attendees to acknowledge “the contagious nature of COVID-19; the existence generally of federal, provincial, municipal, and public health orders prohibiting public gatherings; and the risk of bodily harm ‘including but not limited to personal injury, disability, and death’ associated with exposure or infection by COVID-19.”
Receipts made out to cleaning company
The money B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture is seeking to keep was allegedly found in a safe.
The notice of claim says police also found receipts for the purchase of alcohol that were issued by Envy Clean Services, a company incorporated last October.
Movassaghi is allegedly the controlling mind of the company and the contact for the firm is his girlfriend, who is also named in the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, she initially claimed ownership of the money.
When he was sentenced, Movassaghi also pleaded guilty to keeping liquor for sale.
The director of civil forfeiture claims his cleaning company was used to receive the proceeds of the unlawful sale of liquor.
A former financial planner, Movassaghi was fined $27,500 by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada in 2017 and banned from the industry for eight months.
According to court documents, he has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in business administration. He started working as a private investment consultant in 1998, managing assets of up to $20 million.
Movassaghi ran into professional trouble when a client he was also renting a condo to brought forward claims he had transferred several of her accounts without her authorization when he changed workplaces in 2016.
A hearing into the claims found Movassaghi had forged the client’s signature on multiple occasions and falsified documents and trade orders on her accounts.
The notice of civil claim says he bought the penthouse suite in November with a $959,000 down-payment.
None of the claims alleged by the director of civil forfeiture have been proven in court. Movassaghi has not filed a response to the lawsuit.