MANHATTAN (CN) – The president of an Islamic advocacy group faces federal charges of destroying documents subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating the Alavi Foundation’s relationship with Bank Melli Iran and the ownership of a Manhattan office building.
The indictment is the result of a grand jury subpoena served on the Alavi Foundation in December aimed at revealing the relationship between the foundation, the Assa Corp., Assa Co. Ltd., 650 Fifth Avenue Co. and Bank Melli.
The complaint alleges that the Assa companies were shells controlled by the Iranian-owned bank. It claims that Farshid Jehedi was cautioned by FBI agents not to destroy any documents related to the investigation. The next day, agents trailing Jehedi saw him leaving his office and later “driving in a circuitous manner to a location near his residence,” according to the complaint.
“After exiting the car, Jehedi walked to a public trash can, while appearing to attempt to determine whether anyone was following him,” the complaint states. “Upon reaching the trash can, Jehedi discarded papers he had retrieved from his pockets.”
Agents retrieved the papers and determined they were related to the subpoena, according to the complaint.
The complaint states that in 1989 Alavi partnered with Bank Melli to form 650 Fifth Avenue, and transferred 35 percent of the company’s ownership to Assa Corp., to disguise the bank’s ownership interest. It states that Bank Melli owns 40 percent of the bank today and the shell companies and Alavi Foundation own 60 percent.
The federal government seized the foundation’s 36-story office building at 650 5th Ave. in December, filed a forfeiture complaint and froze several accounts, alleging money laundering.
Alavi has been the subject of two previous lawsuits to satisfy judgments against Iran for a 1997 Hamas suicide bombing in a Jerusalem mall.
Jehedi has been charged with two felonies, which together carry a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted. He was to be arraigned today (Friday).