A 36-story NYC building, located at 650 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, is secretly owned and controlled by the Iranian government through the Alavi Foundation and Assa Corp. Assa Corp is owned by the Bank Melli, which is a “front for the government of Iran” and the Alavi Foundation is “devoted to the promotion and support of Islamic culture“. The judge said that the Assa Corp. was deliberately “shielding and concealing Iranian assets.” The building is said to be worth $500-$700 million dollars.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled last week that the majority owner of the building, the Alavi Foundation, knew that two minority owners were fronts for Iran’s Bank Melli.
In an 82-page opinion on Monday explaining her ruling, Forrest said the violation was a deliberate effort to help Iran, which violates the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and U.S. money laundering laws.
She wrote “there is a far broader violation – one that involves not simply an unknowing and innocent provision of services to Iran, but providing those services to assist Iran by shielding and concealing Iranian assets.”
A lawyer for the Alavi Foundation declined to comment on Monday.
Forrest’s ruling comes in a long-running case over links between the building, known as 650 Fifth Avenue, and Iran. While still subject to appeal, the ruling could eventually result in the building being seized by the U.S. government.
According to the government’s lawsuit, Alavi and two minority owners transferred rental income from the building to Bank Melli. The building generated close to $39 million in rental income from 1999 through 2007, according to the lawsuit.
The Alavi Foundation still owns 7 other buildings that were not included in the ruling.
USA Today has more on the story.