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Judge: Iran-backed company behind NYC office tower

September 16, 2013
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge says a New York City office tower may be subject to forfeiture because revenue from it was secretly funneled to an Iranian bank in violation of a trade embargo with Iran.

Judge Katherine Forrest made the forfeiture finding in Manhattan federal court Monday. The U.S. government sought the forfeiture in 2008.

The government had said the Alavi Foundation's sole partner in the ownership of the 36-story Fifth Avenue building was a shell company fronting for a secret interest held by the state-owned bank of Iran, Bank Melli.

The judge says monetary transfers by the shell company, Assa Co., to Bank Melli violated money laundering statutes.

The Iranian government has been designated by the U.S. as a sponsor of international terrorism but has repeatedly denied that. Lawyers for the Alavi Foundation haven't returned messages seeking comment.



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