Judge: Feds Can Seize Iran-Owned NYC Building

Would be biggest terror-related forfeiture

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 17, 2013 6:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Justice Department may have just scored a huge payday from Iran in unusual fashion: A federal judge has ruled that the feds can seize a 36-story office tower in Midtown Manhattan because its owners were illegally sending rent revenue to Iran, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Daily News pegs the value of the tower at 650 Fifth Ave. between $500 million and $700 million, explaining why the Justice Department is boasting that this is the "largest-ever terrorism-related forfeiture."

It's not a done deal just yet, however. The Alavi Foundation, which owns 60% of the building, plans to appeal. US District Judge Katherine B. Forrest agreed with federal prosecutors that the building's ownership is essentially a front for the government of Iran and is funneling money to the state-owned Bank Melli. That would violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, among other offenses. The US Attorney in Manhattan says the money would go to victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism.

People stand near an entrance to 650 5th Ave. in New York in this file photo.
People stand near an entrance to 650 5th Ave. in New York in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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