Winnipeg police HQ contractor modified invoices to pay for ‘personal home improvement’: city

The Metropolis of Winnipeg suggests the contractor in charge of developing the Winnipeg Law enforcement Support headquarters used the venture to settle exceptional debts with subtrades for revenue owed on other design tasks, new courtroom filings expose.

They also say lead contractor Caspian Construction modified invoices to fork out for “personalized house improvement initiatives.”

“We see occasions of subtrades getting compensated by [Caspian] for intended get the job done many months, and in truth from time to time yrs, just after the operate was concluded (if ever the get the job done was done) and following subtrade invoices have been issued to the city,” City of Winnipeg attorneys Michael Finlayson and Gabrielle Lisi wrote in a brief filed in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench on June 13.

The town released a civil lawsuit against dozens of folks and organizations concerned in the police HQ construction challenge, such as lead contractor Caspian and its proprietor, Armik Babakhanians, in January 2020.

The city alleges a scheme to inflate and overcharge the metropolis for construction costs through fraudulent offers and invoices, altered offers from subcontractors and kickbacks.

The project was accomplished in 2016, decades powering program and much more than $79 million about spending budget. The RCMP introduced a criminal investigation into the job in 2014, which was shut in late 2019 with no expenses laid.

The city’s hottest court filing says it identified quite a few irregularities in invoicing and payment of subtrades involved in the police headquarters challenge by a team referred to as the Caspian defendants.

That group involves Caspian Development, Caspian Assignments Inc., and connected firms Mountain Development, Jags Development, Brooke Holdings Ltd., Logistic Keeping Inc. and Jaw Enterprises Inc. 

It also incorporates Armik Babakhanians, his spouse, Jenik, his son Shaun, and workplace supervisor Pam Anderson.

“They paid out for residential jobs and their have own property enhancement initiatives executed by subtrades by modifying invoices to make them search project-associated,” wrote Finlayson and Lisi.

Write-offs ‘commonplace’ at Caspian: city

The town doesn’t specify which household renovations it can be referring to.

However, in 2014 look for warrant paperwork, RCMP alleged a previous accounting assistant employed by Caspian told police invoices were being charged to the police HQ challenge that had nothing at all to do with the work remaining performed. That included a $25,000 cheque for a swimming pool at a home that belonged to Shaun Babakhanians, RCMP alleged.

The Mounties also said that invoices for renovations to a ​private household owned ​by one of the customers of the Babakhanians family were charged to law enforcement headquarters. 

“Caspian at moments known as the businesses back … [to] have them change or reissue the invoices” so it would display the law enforcement headquarters occupation code, the previous accounting assistant informed investigators. She also reported Caspian asked contractors to “delete the residence deal with,” the 2014 search warrant documents stated.

The court filings say the Caspian defendants appeared to settle debts with subtrades from prior initiatives by altering invoices, “with or without the need of subtrade involvement” and submitting them to the town.

In preceding court docket filings, the town mentioned it received an email exchange involving Caspian staff Peter Giannuzzi Jr. and Shaun Babakhanians.

In a spreadsheet  connected to that correspondence, Giannuzzi referred to, amongst other things, “slight residence advancements [being] penned off on jobs” and “venture revenue” of about $12.5 million related to the police headquarters job.

In a document incorporated as section of a Could 4, 2022, City of Winnipeg court docket filing, Peter Giannuzzi Jr. refers to ‘project profits’ in a observe to Shaun Babakhanians of Caspian, the law enforcement headquarters contractor, according to court docket paperwork. (Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench filing)

“If Mr. Giannuzzi is to be believed, composing off particular residence enhancements on ongoing … assignments was commonplace at [Caspian],” Finlayson and Lisi wrote in the June 13 short.

It was in truth “so commonplace that Mr. Giannuzzi, astonishingly, then seems to complain that some of his own residence advancements had been not authorized to be written off on [Caspian’s] ongoing assignments,” they wrote.

None of the allegations have been examined in court.

HQ-relevant charges, non-linked merged: city

The hottest courtroom filings also allege Caspian utilised the law enforcement HQ undertaking to pay off remarkable money owed owed to subcontractors for other careers.

As an instance, the town alleges that nine of 10 invoices from subcontractor Abesco which had been claimed by Caspian and paid by the metropolis “show up to merge [police HQ] project-relevant prices (approx. $800,000) with $1.55 million for non-venture-connected fees,” Finlayson and Lisi wrote. Individuals other jobs involved a Winnipeg Transit garage and a police canine facility, the city states.

The city’s brief claims a handwritten notation on a person of those people invoices study, “This was generated as per Armik’s request so we could obtain payment for Transit Garage.”

Caspian Development proprietor Armik Babakhanians is shown in this picture from the 2015 Dream Maker Auction, a fundraising event for The Desire Factory, a Winnipeg-primarily based charity. (

The new court files say “a identical pattern can be observed” with a group of defendants collectively referred to as the “Garcea Group defendants.” In particular, the town details to an invoice from Colour Structure, one of the defendants in that team.

In that invoice, $230,000 relating to get the job done on Soul Sanctuary — a church on Chevrier Boulevard that was built by a Caspian-controlled firm at the identical time operate was conducted on the Winnipeg police HQ project — was claimed by Caspian and paid by the town as element of the police HQ undertaking, the city alleges.

City wishes economical files

Acquiring a total photograph of payments to subtrades is “essential” to fully grasp the character and extent of alleged fraudulent claims to the metropolis, the courtroom paperwork say.

The city is trying to get a court docket get powerful the Caspian defendants and consultants that labored on the police HQ to provide personalized and corporate income tax returns, banking data and money statements. 

“The Caspian defendants are now trying to use the tangled web that they produced to defraud the metropolis as a protect by which to maintain related proof from the metropolis and this court docket,” wrote Finlayson and Lisi.

They say the town is now trying to “disentangle that world-wide-web” and will demand money files to do so.

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