29 August 2022

Courgette chef Mussillon's co-accused Mohammed Al-Mofathel to stand trial for alleged money laundering

| Albert McKnight
Police raising a restaurant

Police raided Courgette on 12 August 2021. Photo: ACT Policing.

The co-accused of famed former chef James Mussillon has been committed to face trial in the ACT’s higher court over a series of allegations, including that he was involved in drug trafficking and dealing with almost $700,000 suspected to be the proceeds of crime.

When Mussillon was arrested in August 2021, ACT Policing originally alleged he facilitated the laundering of cash earned by Mohammed Al-Mofathel via his award-winning Canberra restaurant, Courgette.

Police alleged Al-Mofathel distributed “significant quantities” of cannabis in the Canberra region.

Al-Mofathel called into the ACT Magistrates Court over the phone from jail on Thursday (25 August) where his lawyer applied for him to be committed to trial in the Supreme Court with the consent of the prosecution.

The 29-year-old from Holt has pleaded not guilty to all his 14 charges, which include money laundering, perjury, perverting the course of justice, trafficking cannabis and dealing with property suspected to be the proceeds of crime.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston committed him to the higher court and his case will appear there at a later date to begin the process of organising a trial.

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While Mussillon pleaded guilty in March this year to charges of money laundering, perjury, obtaining property by deception, making false evidence and general dishonesty influencing a public official, the particular details of his case he admitted to are not yet publicly known.

The 50-year-old is on bail while he waits to be sentenced and his case is next back in court in September.

James Mussillon

James Daniel Mussillon was the owner and chef of Canberra’s popular Courgette restaurant. Photo: Supplied.

Documents that have been previously tendered to the court allege Al-Mofathel bought Mussillon’s former restaurant, the Water’s Edge, from him around 2015, even though the chef effectively continued to operate the Parkes eatery

However, he allegedly later relinquished ownership back to Mussillon, with police claiming he told others it was “too much hard work”.

“I was hardly ever there, man. I was too busy doing my own thing,” he allegedly said.

Over intercepted calls in 2015, he is alleged to have talked about buying the Water’s Edge as well as losing $80,000 at a casino over six months, buying a $70,000 Mercedes C63 and putting a $50,000 deposit on a Lamborghini.

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But the documents allege he was on a disability support pension over 2013 to 2015, was paid $18,000 in wages in 2015 and from 2013 to 2019 had no other declared form of income.

Al-Mofathel and Mussillon were alleged to have dealt with about $516,000 suspected to be the proceeds of crime between March 2016 and August 2021, while Al-Mofathel is also alleged to have illegally dealt with a further $150,000 with another co-accused in March 2021.

The other co-accused is also before the courts, but Region has not named him as it was not immediately clear at what stage his matter is up to.

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