Police have restrained assets estimated to be worth more than $1 million as part of an investigation into a top chef, who is behind bars accused of laundering drug money through his exclusive Civic restaurant.
The assets include the man's Bonner house, a white Lamborghini coupe and two other cars, and a number of bank accounts.
The renowned restaurateur, Courgette owner James Daniel Mussillon, 49, was arrested on Thursday as investigators raided his home and business, which is said to have an annual turnover of $4 million.
Mohammed Al-Mofathel, 28, was taken into custody at his Holt residence as part of the same police probe.
ACT Policing said officers collected a significant amount of evidence during the three search warrants, including more than $135,000 in cash, a gel blaster firearm, a commercial money counter, electronic devices, and steroids.
The arrests of the two men followed what police described on Friday morning as "an extensive investigation into drug distribution and money laundering activities".
Police allege Mr Al-Mofathel was responsible for distributing significant quantities of cannabis in the ACT region.
He allegedly gave dirty cash to Mr Mussillon, who is accused of cleaning it through his well-known eatery.
Mr Mussillon has been charged with 10 offences including money laundering, dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds of crime, perjury, perverting the course of justice, making false evidence and using a false document. He has not entered pleas.
Mr Al-Mofathel is charged with 14 crimes, which are largely the same offences as Mr Mussillon. The others unique to him include trafficking in cannabis. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Both men unsuccessfully applied for bail when they appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday.
Mr Mussillon's barrister, Jason Moffett, argued the livelihoods of not only the 49-year-old, but his 18 staff and many suppliers, would be in jeopardy if he was remanded in custody.
Prosecutor Trent Hickey said, however, that it was "not unusual" for a defendant to own a business.
Magistrate James Lawton agreed, finding the special or exceptional circumstances required to grant bail in this case had not been established.
Mr Al-Mofathel's solicitor, Paul Edmonds, argued the prosecution case in relation to the Holt man was "especially weak".
Mr Edmonds said Mr Mussillon appeared to have "a significant amount of explaining to do", but the evidence against his client largely consisted of "ambiguous" intercepted communications and the opinions of police about what those meant.
He told the court police had had Mr Al-Mofathel under surveillance for six years, yet there was "not a skerrick of evidence that he's made anything approaching an admission to any of these offences".
"They've clearly been desperate to get him on anything they could for a long time," Mr Edmonds said.
Mr Hickey countered that it was "laughable" for the case against the 28-year-old to be called weak, relying upon more than 50 pages of allegations prepared by police.
Mr Lawton ultimately described the case against Mr Al-Mofathel as largely circumstantial, though he did not necessarily agree with Mr Edmonds that it was "especially weak".
He therefore found the special or exceptional circumstances required for the 28-year-old to get bail had not been made out either.
The magistrate indicated he would have had serious concerns about granting the men bail even if that had not been the case, pointing to the allegations of perjury and perverting the course of justice.
The court heard those related in part to Mr Mussillon giving allegedly false evidence about employing Mr Al-Mofathel when the latter applied for bail in relation to previous charges.
Mr Al-Mofathel will mount a fresh bid for bail next Thursday, while Mr Mussillon's case is set to be mentioned again that same morning.
Prior to the pair fronting court, Detective Superintendent Scott Moller said it would be naive to think Canberra was not home to the sorts of crimes the men were accused of.
"Unfortunately, Canberra is like all other cities when it comes to the illicit drug trade," the senior ACT Policing investigator said.
"There are those that seek to profit from these illegal activities.
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"These arrests should serve as another reminder that ACT Policing is committed to these investigations.
"If you're committing criminal activity and involved in organised crime, it's likely we're already aware of you and you can expect we'll come knocking on your door soon."
Detective Superintendent Moller said police would also continue to strip people of illegitimate assets.
"By removing their assets, we remove the benefit of their criminal activities," he said.
"In the past couple of years, ACT Policing has been very successful in seizing assets, and dismantling organised crime networks and operators in our city."
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