US moves to seize NY skyscraper from Iran firms
New York, November 13, 2009
US prosecutors have filed a civil lawsuit to seize control of a New York City skyscraper they say is owned by companies illegally funneling money to the Iranian government.
The suit filed on Thursday sought to revoke the Alavi Foundation and the Assa Corporation's ownership of a 36-storey building at 650 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The original lawsuit filed in December only sought Assa Corp's building share.
Prosecutors said both companies were sending money to Bank Melli, owned by the Iranian government. The US Treasury has designated the bank as a weapons proliferator and banned US citizens from dealing with it.
Prosecutors said they also intended to seize 'all other assets' of the two entities, including bank accounts and real estate in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, and California.
The amended civil action is against the owners of the properties and not people who use the buildings, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said.
'No action has been taken against any tenants or occupants of those properties,' said spokeswoman Yusill Scribner. 'There are no allegations of any wrongdoing on the part of any of these tenants or occupants.'
Prosecutors say Iran's United Nations ambassador has controlled the Alavi Foundation since 1991.-Reuters