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Iran-Owned New York Building Seized

The 36-story Manhattan building at 650 Fifth Avenue that U.S. officials say is owned by Iran.
The U.S. Justice Department says it has conducted the biggest seizure of terrorism-related assets in history, confiscating a 36-story New York City building from an Iranian group.

On September 17, a district court ruled that the office building’s owners -- Alavi Foundation and Assa Corp. -- were “shielding and concealing Iranian assets” in violation of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran's government.

"The Judge’s opinion upholds what was the contention of this Office from outset: ‘Assa was (and is) a front for Bank Melli, and thus a front for the Government of Iran,'" the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said in a press release, quoting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The building, on Fifth Avenue, was built in the 1970s by a foundation linked to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Iranian government seized the building after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and since then it has been owned by various banks and shell corporations, U.S. officials say.

The ruling allows the United States to seize bank accounts and other properties belonging to the building’s owner and potentially use the proceeds to compensate victims of “Iranian-sponsored terrorism.”

With reporting by The Atlantic Wire
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