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U.S. Seeks To Seize Property From Iranian Charity In Iran Sanctions Case

The Iranian-owned Manhattan office tower at 650 Fifth Avenue, which the U.S. government is seeking to seize

U.S. attorneys offered closing arguments on June 26 in a case where the government is attempting to seize a Manhattan office tower from an Iranian charitable foundation because it allegedly violated U.S. sanctions.

After a monthlong trial, the government argued that the Alavi Foundation, the building's majority owner, knew its minority partner, Assa Corp, was a front for Tehran's government and helped hide that fact.

The U.S. government wants to seize the building, worth around $1 billion, to benefit the American victims of alleged Iranian bombings who have won court judgments against Iran.

Alavi turned rental income from the Manhattan building over to Assa even after the United States imposed sanctions on Iran in 1995, violating those sanctions, U.S. attorneys said.

They said a letter from an Alavi officer to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei referred to the United States as "the great Satan" and suggested Alavi was working for Iran.

Attorneys for the charity established in the 1970s by the shah of Iran to promote Persian culture in the United States did not dispute that Alavi knew Assa was owned by Iran's state-controlled Bank Melli when they became partners in 1989.

But they said the foundation believed Assa had been sold to other owners before sanctions took effect.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters