Kourosh Bakhtiari wants to be reimbursed for the surcharge, the privilege removed, the law changed and the damages paid.

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An Iranian refugee who has lived in Canada for 27 years but only recently obtained permanent resident status wants a refund of the $1.32 million foreign buyers’ property tax he paid for his home in West Vancouver.

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In a B.C. Supreme Court statement filed recently, Kourosh Bakhtiari, who was described in documents as an aspiring terrorist decades ago for convictions on weapons charges and who escaped once using a string made of dental floss, argues that a 61-month delay in granting him permanent resident status violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, causing him unnecessary hardship and expense.

“His case shows how the surtax on foreign buyers’ properties is in part hurting a group of homeowners it is meant to help – longtime residents of British Columbia without official immigration status who wish to express their roots in this territory through home ownership,” said a veteran Vancouver lawyer. said Jason Gratl.

Bakhtiari, who has no criminal record in Canada, was initially declared inadmissible by the Immigration and Refugee Board due to his crimes in the United States, and received an order of conditional expulsion on April 9, 1996.

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But he fought this and was designated a refugee on May 27, 1998.

Ten years earlier, Bakhtiari had been caught trying to buy an apartment in Manhattan by posing as a State Department employee.

His briefcase contained weapons, including an M-11 9mm semi-automatic pistol, a silencer for the pistol, a knife, grenades and a tourniquet.

He and two other inmates then allegedly escaped from New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center using a rope made from 15 bundles of dental floss braided together.

While recovering in a New York hospital after being captured, he again tried unsuccessfully to flee.

Deported to Iran after a stay in an American prison, Bakhtiari came to Canada and requested political asylum on December 10, 1995, fearing that he would be tortured in Iran because in 1984 his father was captured, tortured and killed for led a revolt against the Islamic regime. .

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He applied to the Minister of Immigration for permanent resident status in 1997, but was refused due to his convictions in the United States and failure to pay a fine. Bakhtiari incorrectly assumed that the fine would be paid from the seized assets.

On December 15, 2011, more than 100 police converged on five locations, including the offices of the Bakhtiari company, in a spectacular raid that netted over $220,000 and four kilograms of methamphetamine.

Nonetheless, police issued an apology in 2017 for ‘Project Enape’, which targeted Bakhtiari’s company for manufacturing legal pharmaceuticals and male hair growth products, allegedly because it was linked to the crime organized. The civil proceedings in this case resulted in the confiscation of the money seized.

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In 2014, Bakhtiari again attempted to apply for permanent resident status. This request was again denied. He applied again in January 2017.

Bakhtiari was finally granted permanent resident status on February 16, although no explanation was given for the delay.

He alleges that the process took three times longer than average and was the result of gross negligence and bad faith on the part of the Minister.

During this waiting period, Bakhtiari on July 1, 2021 was forced to pay $1.32 million in surcharge on June 14, 2019, purchase of a house registered in his company’s name on Groveland Road in West Vancouver. He lives there.

He appealed, but on February 29 he was deemed ineligible for an exemption because he had not obtained permanent resident status within a year of purchase – the process had taken 32 months.

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The lawsuit, brought by Bakhtiari and his company, Technocorp Venture Capital Inc., alleges that the tax not only imposes an enormous financial burden on Bakhtiari, but sends an implicit government-sponsored message that he is the kind of person who should be discouraged from owning a home in British Columbia

“The Minister of Immigration’s delay in processing his application for permanent resident status contributed to the imposition of the surtax and the loss of dignity, social status, psychological distress and anxiety resulting from the ‘imposition of the surcharge and the implied message of the surcharge,’ the lawsuit alleges.

Bakhtiari wants to be reimbursed for the surcharge, the lien removed, the law changed and the damages paid.

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“The discrimination against Bakhtiari, who has resided in British Columbia for 27 years, is contrary to the true intent of the legislature,” Gratl said.

He added that the purpose of the surcharge is to promote home ownership by long-term residents and that the one-year limit is arbitrary and unreasonable.

The attorney general told the court that people in Bakhtiari’s situation should not be subject to the surcharge.

“The Minister of Immigration’s unjustified delay of more than five years in processing my client’s application for permanent resident status deprived him of an exemption from the 20% property surcharge for foreign buyers,” said Gratl.

“It might be tempting to believe that the wealthy do not have civil liberties, but in law the right to equality belongs to everyone.”

The federal and provincial governments have approximately three weeks after receiving a copy of the lawsuit to respond.

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