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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Judge rules that Feds have right to seize Fifth Ave. tower tied to Iran

A federal judge says the US government might be able to seize a 36-story Fifth Avenue office tower worth hundreds of millions of dollars because a part-owner acted as a front for Iran.

US District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled Monday that Assa Corp. violated the US trade embargo against the nuke-hungry nation.

The feds had first sough the seizure of the building, 650 Fifth Avenue, in 2008. Forrest said Assa Co. was a shell company that violated money-laundering laws by transferring funds to Bank Melli, Iran’s national bank.

“The court has found that, based on the incontrovertible record evidence, Assa was [and is] a front for Bank Melli, and thus a front for the government of Iran,” Forrest said.

First designed in the late 1970s, the Midtown building is home to a Juicy Couture store. Originally financed for $42 million, it is said to be worth over half a billion dollars.

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