Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says a 6-year legal case against the non-profit, Manhattan-based Alavi Foundation is in stark contrast to the reality and lacks legitimacy.
Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham stated that by forfeiting the Midtown skyscraper which is a property of the foundation, the US federal prosecutors have violated US regulations in providing religious freedom for the citizens.
Afkham blasted the verdict as an entirely political decision, stating that the Alavi Foundation is a completely independent entity with no connection to Iran.
She added that the case had been filed only to pressure Iran and it will challenge the credibility of the US judicial system.
According to a court document filed on Thursday, a U.S. judge agreed to sell the building, owned by the Alavi Foundation and Assa Corporation, and other Iranian forfeited assets on charges of "money laundering”, "illegal sanctions-violation”, and to reimburse the victims of terrorist attacks allegedly sponsored by Iran, Tehran Times reports.
Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that the U.S. government can seize holdings of the Alavi Foundation and resell many of them in order to raise money to compensate the families of victims of terror who, in the past, have won judgments in their favor.
The U.S. claimed Bank Melli, Iran’s national bank, co-owned the building through Assa. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan, who presided over the case, in September agreed, ruling that Assa acted as a front for Bank Melli.
Forrest rejected the defendant’s argument that it was an "innocent owner” of 650 Fifth Ave. and other properties.
"Alavi argues that forfeiture of the foundation’s 60 percent interest in 650 Fifth Avenue Co. and therefore in the building -- assets worth more than $500 million -- is grossly disproportionate to its offense,” Forrest said. "This court disagrees.”
Assa had argued that the forfeiture of the entire building at 650 Fifth Ave. would be "unconstitutionally disproportionate.”