The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

"Master of Malice:
The Ghermezians put an end to Bill Grosvenor's 'news tips'"
Alberta Report
July 3, 1989 , Pg. 19-20
By Tom Philip and Glenn Kubish

Edmonton Reporters know all about William (Bill) Grosvenor's "news tips." The invariably concern the Ghermezian family, developers of West Edmonton Mall, and they always have something bad to say about the Ghermezians and their company, Triple Five Corporation. "Hi, it's Bill Grosvenor," goes a typical call. "I've just persuaded the British authorities to cancel the Leeds project." A few phone calls and the "story" inevitably turns out to be false. But other Grosvenor claims are downright defamatory - a favorite is that the Ghermezians are selling drugs in the video arcade at West Edmonton Mall - and Grosvenor doesn't just make them to Edmonton reporters, with whom he has exhausted whatever credibility he might once have had. Grosvenor, like the Ghermezians, has expanded his operations to Europe, where he has made his malicious comments to newspaper reporters and businessmen who don't know any better than to believe him.

The Ghermezians - brothers Raphael, Bahman, Eskander and Nader - fear Grosvenor may have done significant damage to their business ventures in Europe, where they are negotiating to replicate West Edmonton Mall with developments in Leeds, England and Oberhausen, West Germany. Yet they did little about it until an Alberta Report story last month quoted Grosvenor admitting he intends "to use all means at my disposal anywhere in the world to put the Ghermezians out of business." The Ghermezians cited the story, which detailed Grosvenor's methods and motives, in obtaining an interim injunction from Mr. Justice D.R. Matheson of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta two weeks ago. It prevents Grosvenor from making "any statement intending to prejudice the minds of the public" against the Ghermezians, and from communicating with anyone doing business with the family. A few days later they obtained a similar injunction from a court in West Germany, where Triple Five is negotiating to build a $6-billion World Tourist Centre in the north Rhine city of Oberhausen.

The Ghermezians backed their application for the gag order with stories from Alberta Report and the West German newspaper Die Zeit. Alberta Report has also obtained numerous letters, court documents, newspaper articles - even Grosvenor's own resume - dating back to 1970, revealing that Grosvenor, 48, has a criminal record for assault and extortion, that he was diagnosed at Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in British Columbia in 1973 as suffering from a paranoid personality disorder, and that his harassment of the Ghermezians is only the latest in a 20-year series of vendettas against corporations and individuals, including leading figures of the British Columbia legislature and judiciary. The documents also reveal a remarkable willingness on the part of some newspapers to accept Grosvenor at face value. The Edmonton Journal, in particular, has described him over the years as a "consultant," an "import-export consultant" and "president of an international management consulting firm," lending Grosvenor a credibility which his history shows is not deserved.

William David Michael Grosvenor's career as a self-described opponent of graft and corruption began shortly after he arrived in Toronto (he says from England) in the mid-1960s, and it got off to an inauspicious start. According to a Vancouver Sun story about Grosvenor in July 1970, Grosvenor was fined $50 in April 1967 for assaulting a security guard who was attempting to eject him from a bank he was picketing over alleged "irregularity." At about the same time, Grosvenor claimed credit for uncovering wrongdoing in the affairs of Prudential Finance Corp., an Ontario company that collapsed owing creditors $20 million. But then-Finance minister Mitchell Sharp told parliament that Grosvenor had "revealed nothing of value." Indeed, Mr. Sharp believed that Grosvenor, who describes himself in his resume as "a registered expert on fraudulent bankruptcies with the RCMP," had probably been fired by Prudential's auditors. In 1968, after a brief stint with an accounting firm in Halifax (where he changed his name from Gruber), Grosvenor left for Prince Rupert, B.C., where he found work with accountant Odd Eidsvik. A source claims Mr. Eidsvik soon became disenchanted with Grosvenor's work and cut his pay in half.

It was while living in Prince Rupert that Grosvenor discovered a new avenue for pursuing his many grievances: the courts. In February 1970, Grosvenor charged Prince Rupert MLA William Murray and provincial court Judge W.N. Poole under the B.C. Companies Act with failing to file an annual return for companies of which he claimed they were directors. A district judge promptly threw out the charges, noting that Grosvenor had failed to make even a prima facie case that Mr. Murray and Judge Poole were directors of the companies in question - but not before the story was picked up and prominently displayed by the Vancouver Province, which printed the news of the charges without comment. At about the same time, Grosvenor charged the local Bank of Montreal with forgery. Again the case was dismissed, with Judge J.T. Harvey labelling Grosvenor a "master of malice" for bringing an action against a bank that had intended only to spare him the embarrassment of having a cheque bounce.

All told, Grosvenor brought seven court cases in less than a year while living in Prince Rupert. Four never got to trial, two were dismissed and one ended with Grosvenor being ordered to pay a counter-claim larger than the amount owed him. In July 1970, Mr. Justice A.B. Macfarlane of the B.C. Supreme Court invoked a law designed to prevent abuse of the courts to prohibit Grosvenor from instituting any new legal proceedings in the province without the permission of a court. In the meantime, Grosvenor himself had faced charges. In April 1970 he was convicted of attempting to extort $50 from Prince Rupert businessman Campbell McLeod by threatening to prosecute him under the B.C. Companies Act. He was sentenced to one day in jail and fined $400.

Shortly thereafter Grosvenor moved to suburban Vancouver, where he found a new target in General Motors Canada Ltd. (GM), manufacturers of the problem-plagued Firenza. In May 1973 he and a woman named Hendrika Peeters, with whom he shared a New Westminster address, stationed themselves outside a Vancouver GM dealership and attempted to steer potential customers to another GM dealership a few blocks away. "It is utterly incredible to me," said Mr. Justice A.A. Mackoff of the B.C. Supreme Court in issuing an injunction barring Grosvenor from the site, "that a group saying it seeks to relay information about General Motors should have the temerity to say this GM dealer is a good guy and the other GM dealer, who sells the same products they labelled as junk, is a bad guy." Throughout the affair, Grosvenor passed himself off as the B.C. representative of the respected Automobile Protection Association (APA), prompting APA president Phil Edmonston to ask B.C.'s attorney- general to investigate whether Grosvenor had been "soliciting money or carrying out other undesirable activities in our name."

Grosvenor dropped out of sight during the mid-1970s, during which time he claims to have been a consultant, "processed for top secret and military security clearance," to the prime minister of Malaysia. In 1980 he surfaced in Edmonton where he threatened to sue the city for $200 when a tent belonging to a Malaysian cultural group with which he was associated blew down in a storm during the city's Heritage Days festival. In February 1980, he also gained attention when he apologized to the Iranian Embassy for Canada's role in spiriting six U.S. diplomats out of Tehran in the days following the Islamic revolution. Grosvenor called the assistance given to the diplomats by Kenneth Taylor, Canada's ambassador to Iran, a "criminal act" intended to aid U.S. "spies."

In the intervening years, Grosvenor has waged an unceasing campaign intended, in his words "to put the Ghermezians out of business." After returning from West Germany last week, Grosvenor was holed up in his home in Edmonton's Dickinsfield neighbourhood, reportedly refusing service of the Triple Five gag order. The company's lawyers were preparing to go to court again Monday morning for an order allowing them to nail the injunction to the door of Grosvenor's home, which is in fact owned by his wife, Sario. Grosvenor could also face extortion charges in connection with his campaign against the Ghermezians. According to a $22-million lawsuit filed against him by the family, Grosvenor told a Ghermezian associate that a payment of $1.2 million would leave him "too busy to continue his harassment of the plaintiffs for at least three year." The Ghermezians intend to keep him quiet for a lot longer than that.


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