Last week, in accordance with a court document filed in New York, the Department of Justice agreed to distribute proceeds from the pending sale of an Iranian-owned 36-story skyscraper in Manhattan. Proceeds would go to the families of victims of various alleged attacks by Iran-backed militants in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Israel, among others.
In this week’s show, Shahram Aghamir speaks with Mansour Farhang, professor emeritus of international relations at Bennington College in Vermont, about current US-Iran relations as well as the US plan to sell the building housing owned by the Alavi Foundation and Assa Corporation.
The plan is the latest in a legal battle over the skyscraper, known as the Piaget Building, which was built in 1978 under the Shah of Iran. In a 2009 lawsuit, the Manhattan US attorney’s office claimed the Alavi Foundation was controlled by Iran. The court ruled that that Assa Corporation and Assa Company Limited, who own less then half of the building, were a front for Iran’s national Bank Melli. Last year, a federal court ruled that the skyscraper was subject to government forfeiture for “shielding and concealing Iranian assets” in violation of US sanctions law. According to The Guardian, Iran has called the seizure illegal and a violation of religious freedoms. So what is behind the recent dispute over the Alavi Foundation?