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Parsi hires lawyer to represent him

Former IRQO director faces questions about money, management

Arsham Parsi, the embattled former executive director of the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO), has retained a lawyer to represent him on questions of unaccounted-for money and mismanagement.

A recent email to Parsi seeking comment on an Xtra story in November outlining the allegations against him was answered by an email from his lawyer. Parsi has not responded to any questions from Xtra about the issues.

The reply from Deborah E Palter of Thornton Grout Finnigan says she and her client have met with lawyer Douglas Elliott who was hired to represent the current board members of IRQO.

“I am a lawyer acting for Arsham Parsi,” states Palter. “Your inquiry of January 20 was forwarded to me for reply.

“I have met with Douglas Elliott in connection with the matters raised in the Xtra article dated November 21, 2008. I confirm the parties are in discussion and are working toward a constructive resolution of the issues between them. We will contact you again should we have further comment at a later date.”

On the firm’s website, Palter’s profile says she “practices in the area of commercial litigation with an emphasis on banking litigation, creditors’ rights and contract disputes.”

In the November article Elliott says Parsi attempted to force out board members and take control of IRQO and has refused requests to help account for donations to the organization.

“He had purported to fire the two other board members and replace them,” said Elliott at the time. “This was not done in a legal way.”

Elliott also said questions remain about what happened to some of the donations IRQO received while Parsi was running the organization.

“There were repeated appeals for donations and money was [donated],” said Elliott. “It may have been spent on legitimate uses, but it’s not accounted for. He was sent a request to account for the organization’s finances when he was in control, which he did not respond to.”

Elliott says there were specific questions about what happened to a $5,000 cheque given to IRQO as an award by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). The cheque was presented to Parsi at a ceremony in New York on Apr 28 of this year.

“At this time my client doesn’t know what became of that money,” Elliott says. “It may have been deposited in IRQO’s account and it may have been spent on legitimate causes. We don’t know because Arsham won’t say.”

Elliott said in November he had asked IGLHRC to provide information on where the cheque was deposited.

In a Jan 9 email, Elliott writes that he has not heard back from IGLHRC.

“Not yet,” he states. “We are following up with them and Mr Parsi.”

Parsi is currently running a new organization called the Iranian Queer Railroad. In an email to Xtra in November Parsi wrote that the new organization will focus on the journey of refugees from Iran to a safer country.