Police will consider applying for a court order to restrain one of Canberra's most exclusive restaurants under criminal assets legislation after its owner was locked up on charges alleging he used it to launder drug money.
Courgette boss James Daniel Mussillon, 49, was refused bail in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday after being charged with 10 offences, to which he is yet to enter pleas.
The award-winning chef is accused of facilitating the cleaning of dirty cash earned by alleged cannabis distributor Mohammed Al-Mofathel, 28, who was also denied conditional freedom after pleading not guilty to 14 charges.
The men are accused of crimes dating back to 2016, with court documents showing Mr Mussillon allegedly suggested at one stage that his co-defendant should consider being paid a wage from Courgette "so you are looking more legit".
Mr Al-Mofathel's bank records allegedly show he subsequently started receiving significant deposits labelled "Courgette Pay" from Mr Mussillon and the 49-year-old's business entities.
Prosecutor Trent Hickey told the court that he understood restaurant employees interviewed by police had indicated the 28-year-old did not work at the high-end Civic eatery.
The court documents also reveal intercepted calls in which the two men allegedly discussed Mr Mussillon "trying to make out" that he was Mr Al-Mofathel's boss in front of police.
Police have already restrained more than $1 million in assets linked to the men, including Mr Mussillon's home in Bonner, a white Lamborghini coupe and two other cars.
On Friday, Detective Superintendent Scott Moller indicated Courgette may yet join that list.
Asked whether ACT Policing was "expecting to restrain, or take control of, the restaurant involved in this", he replied: "Certainly that's part of our investigation."
A restraining order effectively freezes a suspected criminal asset to enable its potential confiscation at a later stage.
Detective Superintendent Moller added that the relevant police probe, Operation Yasen, was ongoing.
He said he expected further arrests to be made, describing the alleged organised crime activity as having principally involved "cycling the money derived from the sale of illegal drugs through a business".
"[It involved] kilos and kilos and kilos of cannabis, and it's flooding the market in the ACT and generating a huge income," the senior detective said. "That's what we're targeting."
Mr Mussillon and Mr Al-Mofathel are due in court again this coming Thursday.
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