Minister Rasheed’s Vegas Spa Meet Raises Questions Over Controversial Land Deal

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Claims made by three employees of the Wynn Las Vegas hotel appear to challenge the version of events shared by Ontario Minister Kaleed Rasheed to the Integrity Commissioner regarding a serendipitous meeting with a land developer in their establishment’s lobby. The developer in question is involved in a controversy of land violating the designated Greenbelt zone. The employees contend that Rasheed and the developer, along with an ex-aide to Premier Doug Ford, were not just casual acquaintances but had received simultaneous massages at the hotel’s spa.

Rasheed and his former assistant Amin Massoudi reportedly partook in the “Good Luck Ritual” massage, while developer Shakir Rehmatullah received a custom massage at the same juncture. This took place within the confines of the Spa at Encore on February 1, 2020, a time and location billed by staff as a “truly opulent experience.”

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Rasheed conveyed to Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake a differing timeline, which has once again brought into question Rehmatullah’s prior knowledge about the availability of Greenbelt land, a possibility Wake has adjudged as probable.

NDP leader, Marit Stiles, pointed out the glaring disparities in the recounted versions of events, implying a deeper investigative probe into the matter may expose more. This inconsistency and its potential implications left Stiles deeply concerned, which led her to call upon Rasheed to reveal the unabridged truth to the people of Ontario.

While Rasheed’s team did respond to questioning from CTV News about the discrepancies in the timelines of his visit, they conveniently sidestepped addressing the massage parlour coincidence. They maintained that Rasheed’s initial Vegas trip planned for December 2019 was rescheduled to early 2020, due to scheduling conflicts, causing the discrepancy in the dates given to the Integrity Commissioner. They claim to have attempted to retrieve proof of payment from the hotel to solidify their stance, but to no avail. Only upon escalation was it discovered that the trip was rebooked for January 30th to February 1, 2020.

Rasheed, after gaining access to the invoice and proof of payment, reached out to the integrity commissioner’s office to rectify the record, in turn forwarding them the relevant information. Rehmatullah, a self-confessed friend of Premier Doug Ford, failed to respond to questions from CTV News, and Massoudi didn’t return their calls.

Following two damning reports highlighting a dubious process involved in removing numerous land sections from the Greenbelt, benefitting certain individuals with a windfall of $8.3 billion, the former housing minister Steve Clark and his chief of staff, Ryan Amato, have resigned. These reports stemmed from initial leads discovered about the disputed trip in a publication called Trillium, around the same time Rasheed held the position of MPP.

Wake’s report highlighted that Rasheed paid for three flights to Las Vegas yielding $4,500 in cash and was reimbursed by his co-travellers, Massoudi and the then director of housing policy, Jae Truesdell, who did not participate in the massage, according to the hotel employees.

Rasheed being long-time friends with Rehmatullah was another revelation that came as a surprise to many. The former was taken aback to run into Rehmatullah in the hotel lobby, as he hadn’t planned on meeting him during his stay as he was there with his own entourage.

Despite these facts, Wake couldn’t definitively identify the individual who tipped off Rehmatullah about the opportunity to acquire Greenbelt land, but he maintained that someone likely did tempt him with this golden chance.