12 April 2023

Courgette chef James Mussillon returned to jail over money laundering

| Albert McKnight
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Two men walking to court

James Daniel Mussillon (left) approaches court for his sentencing on Tuesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The chef from Canberra’s hatted restaurant Courgette has been returned to jail, in part over his role in laundering money through his famed eatery.

On Tuesday (11 April), James Daniel Mussillon was sentenced to a total of three years and 11 months’ jail by the ACT Supreme Court’s Justice David Mossop.

The 51-year-old was told he must spend 12 months behind bars, with the remainder of the term to be suspended and served as a good behaviour order.

His sentence was also backdated to account for time served. As he had already spent seven-and-a-half months in custody after his arrest in August 2021 before being granted bail, he will be released from jail in August 2023.

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Mussillon pleaded guilty in March 2022 and Justice Mossop convicted him on his charges of money laundering, perjury, making false evidence, general dishonesty, as well as obtaining property by deception.

He had laundered money for an alleged cannabis dealer for several years, court documents say.

He was given hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash by the man, then paid him back through his business in electronic transfers disguised as payment for wages.

This laundered money totalled $361,941 between 2016 and 2021.

Mussillon also obtained $31,000 in COVID‐19 job keeper payments for the alleged dealer by falsely claiming he was an employee, even though he was not.

At his sentencing hearing last month, the court heard he did not have friends outside of work, had been diagnosed with autism and post-traumatic stress disorder and had found himself “caught up in a criminal web”.

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Mussillon’s co-offender, Wing Hei Leung, has already admitted dealing with $153,600 cash that was the proceeds of crime from drug supply and repeatedly lying to police about the money, even signing a document produced by Mussillon that purported it was for a loan.

The 41-year-old, who co-owns The Scholar Restaurant, pleaded guilty to charges of dealing with property suspected to be the proceeds of crime as well as general dishonesty in February 2023 and was handed a 12-month intensive corrections order.

The alleged drug dealer, who is legally unable to be named, has pleaded not guilty to his charges and is awaiting trial.

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