Wednesday, September 18, 2013

18-Sep-13: Striking back at the money that enables the terrorists

650 Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street
[Image Source]
From National Post, Canada, yesterday: "Canadian bank accounts linked to Iranian government frozen as terror victims seek damages"
A judge has frozen more than a dozen Canadian bank accounts linked to the government of Iran at the request of victims trying to collect damages from the Islamic republic over its sponsorship of Middle East terror groups. The list of Iran’s accounts and other state assets in Canada was disclosed last week by the Department of Foreign Affairs in an effort to help victims hold Tehran responsible for financing, training and arming Hezbollah and Hamas. The five-page decision by Justice David Brown of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered banks to lock down the 14 Royal Bank, Scotiabank, CIBC and BMO accounts named by Foreign Affairs, which contain at least $2.6-million. Banks were given until Friday to disclose the names of the account holders and their contact information to lawyers representing the victims. On Sept. 30, the lawyers are scheduled to return to court to ask for a default judgment against Iran... The Ontario court order is the latest fallout from legislation enacted last year that allows victims of terrorism committed anywhere in the world since Jan. 1, 1985 to seek redress through Canadian courts. While foreign governments were previously shielded from lawsuits, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act lifted that immunity from nations Canada has designated state sponsors of terrorism. Iran and Syria were placed on the list of state sponsors last September. Tehran has long bankrolled Palestinian terrorists, partly through its militant Revolutionary Guards Corp. It has also used the Lebanese Shi’ite extremist group Hezbollah as a proxy force for attacking Iranian targets internationally, from South America to Europe.
In a separate seizure/forfeiture action against Iran, perhaps the largest court-ordered asset seizure ever, a court in New York City ruled [see the court order here] that federal authorities could seize a 36-storey Fifth Avenue office tower worth half a billion dollars or more from its owners, Alavi Foundation and Assa Company, declaring them to be fronts for the Iranian regime. (This 2009 report provides some of the background as of when this legal effort got started.)

Assa, the entity that holds a 35 percent share in the building, has a single solitary employee and is registered in in the British Channel Islands tax haven of Jersey. (More details on Wikipedia.) 

Justice Department announcement, published yesterday, says:
"Assa was (and is) a front for Bank Melli, and thus a front for the Government of Iran.’ The Judge’s ruling that Alavi and Assa committed IEEPA and money laundering violations paves the way for the largest-ever terrorism-related forfeiture, and provides a means of compensating victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.”
From the Alavi Foundation's website
The 36-storey building, located at the corner of 650 Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street on the edge of Rockefeller Center, was once called the Piaget Building. It was constructed during the time of the Iranian Shah on behalf of his Pahlavi Foundation, and then seized in December 2008 by the Asset Forfeiture Unit and Terrorism and National Security Unit of the US Attorney's Office. 

Last year, we surveyed here just some of the Iranian-enabled terrorist attacks directed around the world. Counterjihad Report says
Victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks have secured billions of dollars in civil judgments against the Islamic Republic for financing and providing other assistance to the killers. Little of those damages have been collected, however, as victims often find themselves fighting the U.S. government in their attempts to seize Iranian assets in the United States. 
With this week's breakthrough, the US government can proceed to turn a small part of Iran's holding into cash and ultimately provide compensation to some of Iranian-funded terrorism's many victims. Perhaps a corner has now been turned. 

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