650 Fifth Ave. is an Iranian front, judge says

September 17, 2013 10:09AM

Two Iran-related entities have been ordered by a New York federal judge to forfeit their ownership stakes in 650 Fifth Avenue, as the judge ruled that the entities acted as a front for Iranian interests and laundered money through the building.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that all of the assets that are the subject of litigation brought by the U.S. government against Assa Corp., Assa Co. Ltd. and the Alavi Foundation are subject to forfeiture, stopping the case short of a trial, according to Law360. “The court has found that, based on the uncontroverted record evidence, Assa was (and is) a front for [Iran’s first national bank] Bank Melli, and thus a front for the government of Iran,” Forrest said in the ruling.

The Central Bank of Iran gave about $42 million in funds to Build The Fifth Avenue property. The Central Bank gave this money in a form of a loan to Bank Melli, which then loaned the money to the nonprofit Pahlavi Foundation, a corporation now known as Alavi which was organized to purchase U.S. charitable interests on behalf of the Iranian government, according to court documents seen by Law360.

Last week, Forrest rejected Alavi’s request to suppress evidence that the FBI seized in 2008 from 650 Fifth Avenue for a criminal investigation. [Law360]  — Hiten Samtani