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Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Feds Seize More Iran-Linked Real Estate in New York City

MANHATTAN (CN) - Three condominium units in Midtown served as the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, in violation of sanctions, a federal forfeiture complaint alleges.

The United States seeks one unit located on 220 E. 65th St., two units on 240 E. 47th St., and the money in two accounts from their realtor, Melon Properties.

Melon registered as a California corporation in 2000 and bought the three Manhattan apartments a year later, according to the complaint filed Monday.

"Since then, Melon Properties has provided these condominium units for the exclusive use of the Iranian Mission to the United Nations ('IMUN')," the complaint states. "The IMUN has paid Melon Properties for related to the properties in amounts below the fair market rental rate."

Melon bought the first property by paying "approximately $1,070,000 cash - that is, without obtaining mortgage financing," the complaint states.

Melon made other all-cash payments totaling $1.25 million for the other two properties, prosecutors say.

The attorney who closed Melon's deals also allegedly represented Alavi Foundation and IMUN as clients.

After the U.S. government previously seized a 36-story office building on 650 5th Ave., Alavi's ex-president Farshid Jahedi pleaded guilty to obstructing an investigation into the foundation's relationship with Bank Melli Iran.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, who presided over the forfeiture case , found "no triable issue of fact that Alavi is part of the 'government of Iran,'" the complaint states.

In 2005, Melon's president was a former deputy director of the Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, prosecutors say.

"Thus, Melon Properties was formed by, has been managed by, and has acquired property in transactions where it was represented by, individuals who have been employed by the government of Iran and its agencies and instrumentalities," the complaint states.

According to the complaint, Melon deposited $146,500 from the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in one Citibank account, and transferred $60,199.73 into another.

The transactions violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, prosecutors say.

The government wants the seizure of the apartments and the money in the accounts.

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