Grosvenor William, Alberta report

“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

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