US to seize 'Iran-owned' New York skyscraper

Justice Department to confiscate 36 storey building considered a front for Iranian government

Joseph Charlton
Wednesday 18 September 2013 18:55
Comments
The US government is set to seize the 36-storey building on Fifth Avenue
The US government is set to seize the 36-storey building on Fifth Avenue

A 36-storey skyscraper in the heart of Manhattan is being seized by the US government in what the the Justice Department is calling “the largest ever terrorism-related forfeiture”.

Prosecutors say the Alavi Foundation and Assa Corporation, the joint owners of the Piaget Building on Fifth Avenue, are guilty of money-laundering and breaking Iran sanctions.

Manhattan Federal prosecutor Preet Bhasara claims the building’s owners have been diverting rental income and other funds from the building to Bank Melli, Iran’s biggest state-owned bank.

Bhasara says the funds gained from selling the building would be used as “a means of compensating victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism“.

According to the New York Daily News, the building is worth between $500m (£313m) to $700m.

The Alavi Foundation maintains it runs a private non-profit promoting Islamic culture and Persian language, literature and civilization. In a website statement Alavi said it planned to appeal the court’s decision once the final judgement has been announced.

The US Treasury Department has blacklisted several Iranian companies and organisation as part of a tight sanctioning programme meant to stop funds reaching Iran.

The US says sanctions have been imposed in order to keep pressure on Tehran to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in