A man who ran a “makeshift nightclub” in a downtown Vancouver penthouse could see his residence forfeited to the provincial government.
Mohammed Movassaghi owns a penthouse condo on Richards Street and since the start of 2021, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) was called to his suite multiple times. He had been hosting parties with hundreds of attendees, in contravention of COVID-19 public health orders.
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According to a legal document filed by the Director of Civil Forfeiture in BC Supreme Court, the first documented incident occurred on January 2, 2021. VPD received a complaint that a large gathering was occurring, with similar events having been reported over the previous several days.
Police officers would attend Movassaghi’s property a number of additional times in January. On multiple occasions, there would be large gatherings at the penthouse and police would be refused entry.
After multiple attempts to issue a ticket to the party host, VPD eventually obtained and executed a search warrant on Movassaghi’s condo. When the warrant was executed, police found 78 unmasked individuals, signs labelled as “Granny’s” or “Granny’s Exotic Bar, drink menus, a guest list, a DJ station, dance pole, point-of-sale machines, and significant amounts of alcohol.
Also located were “COVID-19 waiver forms,” which required that anybody who attended the makeshift nightclub acknowledge the “contagious nature of COVID-19,” the existence of public health orders, and the risk of bodily harm associated with the spread of the virus.
It was later determined that Movassaghi was operating an unlicensed establishment, which also included issuing promotional materials and soliciting attendees. A business he incorporated in late 2020, Envy Clean Services Inc., was being used to receive the “unlawful” proceeds.
A number of individuals in attendance were also known to be associated with organized crime.
Movassaghi would be arrested in January and charged with several counts by the BC Prosecution Service. In April 2021, he was sentenced to one day in jail and 18-month probation for violating the Public Health Act and the unlawful possession and distribution of liquor.
The court document states he would host large gatherings of up to 199 people on multiple dates throughout the month of August.
Now, the Notice of Civil Claim, which was filed on September 24 by the Director of Civil Forfeiture, wants to see Movassaghi’s property, proceeds from the nightclub, and all additional interests forfeited to the government.
The legal document states that Movassaghi became the registered owner of the residence on November 20, 2020, after a down payment of $959,000 was made.
His current occupation, however, is unknown. And although he was previously employed as a financial planner, in 2017, he was fined $27,500 by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) for forging a client’s signature and failing to inform his employer of outside business activities.
It was determined several years later that he also “deliberately led” IIROC investigation staff. The legal notice also claims that one of Movassaghi’s siblings, Ali Movassaghi, is associated with known organized crime members — he was investigated by law enforcement on several occasions for drug trafficking.
The Director of Civil Forfeiture argues that the property is proceeds and instrument to unlawful activity, which includes the possession of the proceeds of crime, possession and sale of liquor contrary to the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, laundering the proceeds of unlawful activity, and failure to declare taxable income.
The legal notice also says that Movassaghi did not have “the sufficient lawful income” to acquire the down payment, purchase the property, or service the mortgage.
The business he incorporated, Envy Clean Service Inc., was used to launder proceeds from the nightclub and continue to pay and maintain the penthouse property. This was also done without the knowledge of the mortgagee.
Movassaghi will have until mid-October to file a response to the civil claim.