Thursday, November 12, 2009

U.S. government seizing Iranian mosques

The U.S. government seeks forfeiture of at least three mosques, including this one in Houston, Texas

New York (CNN) -- The federal government said Thursday it is seeking forfeiture of properties belonging to the Alavi Foundation and Assa Corp. -- accused of transferring money to a bank owned by the Iranian government -- including a Manhattan skyscraper and at least three mosques.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced

Thursday's filing of an amended civil complaint seeking forfeiture of the Alavi Foundation's interest in the 36-story office tower located on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

The building is owned by 650 Fifth Avenue Company, a partnership between the Alavi Foundation and Assa Corp., the Justice Department said in a news release. The amended complaint alleges that the Alavi Foundation provided services to the Iranian government and transferred money from 650 Fifth Avenue Company to Bank Melli, which is owned and controlled by the government of Iran.
The amended complaint seeks forfeiture of all assets of the Alavi Foundation and Assa Corp., including bank accounts owned by 650 Fifth Avenue Company, the Alavi Foundation and Assa Corp.; and properties owned by the foundation in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Texas and California.

It alleges that the properties were "involved in and [were] the proceeds of money laundering offenses," and that the owners violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, executive orders and U.S. Department of Treasury regulations.

"As today's complaint alleges in great detail, the Alavi Foundation has effectively been a front for the government of Iran," Bharaha said. "For two decades, the Alavi Foundation's affairs have been directed by various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors to the United Nations, in violation of a series of American laws. The Alavi Foundation's former president remains under investigation for alleged obstruction of justice, and both the criminal and civil investigations are ongoing."


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