NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government said it’s ready to seize a Manhattan skyscraper from an Iranian-American charity to benefit victims of terrorism after a jury found Thursday that the charity’s majority ownership was derived from financial dealings that violated sanctions against Iran.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said the owners of the office tower near Rockefeller Center “gave the Iranian government a critical foothold in the very heart of Manhattan through which Iran successfully circumvented U.S. economic sanctions.”
“For over a decade, hiding in plain sight, this 36-story Manhattan office tower secretly served as a front for the Iranian government and as a gateway for millions of dollars to be funneled to Iran in clear violation of U.S. sanctions laws,” Kim said in a statement. “In this trial, 650 Fifth Avenue’s secret was laid bare for all to see, and today’s jury verdict affirms what we have been alleging since 2008.”
The verdict in the civil case was sure to be appealed. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier ordered the case to go to trial after U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled in favor of the United States.
Over the last month, lawyers for the Alavi Foundation argued that the charity was unaware if Iran was secretly benefiting from a partner who owned 40 percent of the building. The Alavi Foundation owns 60 percent.
Kim said the building was worth at least a half billion dollars, though some estimates put its worth closer to a billion dollars.
Kim said the sale of the building, combined with several…
click here to read more.