Sunday, September 15, 2019

15-Sep-19: Terror victims recover damages via Iranian assets in Canada

Haniye of Hamas [Source]
Though it's gotten little media coverage, Iran's key enabling role in terror attacks conducted via its proxies and Iran-funded agents has been recognized in an important string of Canadian court decisions.

This has practical implications worth knowing about for all the involved parties.

The following is extracted from a September 12, 2019 article published by Canada's
Iran’s properties in Canada sold, proceeds handed to terror victims
Stewart Bell National Online 
Tens of millions worth of seized Iranian government properties have been sold off in Canada and the proceeds handed to victims of terrorist groups sponsored by the regime, Global News has learned. According to a document filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last month, the victims got a share of the money earned through the sale of Iran’s buildings in Ottawa and Toronto. The properties went for more than $28-million, documents show. The recipients were victims of Hamas and Hezbollah — terrorist groups bankrolled, armed and trained by Iran.
“The distribution to creditors as authorized by the court has been made,” the Toronto law firm appointed as the court-appointed receiver, Albert Gelman Inc., informed the judge on Aug. 7.
Normally that would be an unremarkable statement but the creditors in the case were terrorism victims and the assets were Canadian properties seized from the Iranian regime.
The Ottawa property, which had been the Iranian Cultural Centre, was particularly valuable. Marketed as a “transit-oriented development opportunity on the apron of the University of Ottawa,” it sold to a Montreal developer for $26.5-million. The Toronto property, which was owned by a company headed by an embassy official and served as the Centre for Iranian Studies, went for $1.85-million.
A lawyer representing one of the victims also confirmed the sales had occurred.
The Canadian Coalition Against Terror, which lobbied to changed the law so victims could seek redress from states that sponsor terrorism, said it was pleased Tehran had been held to account.
“The Iranian regime unwaveringly and unabashedly provides tens of billions of dollars for terrorist organizations that have destroyed innocent lives across the globe, including those of Canadians,” said Danny Eisen, the C-CAT spokesperson.
Foreign governments typically can’t be sued, but the legislation lifted state immunity for those countries. Only non-diplomatic assets can be claimed by victims, meaning embassies and consulates are off-limits... 
Iran initially ignored the case but then hired a law firm to appeal the Ontario court ruling, which the regime called “politically motivated.”
The sale and distribution of Iran’s assets began after the Supreme Court rejected Iran’s appeal last year. Now that the sale of the properties is complete, the assets have been distributed to the victims.
The rest of the article is here. The unsurprising Iranian reaction:
Iran says Canada's sale of properties "unlawful"
TEHRAN, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Iranian Foreign Ministry has said that the recent sale of Iran's properties in Canada by the Canadian government is "unlawful," Iran's state TV reported on Saturday.
Based on a Canadian ruling back in 2016 and later an endorsement by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, seized Iranian government properties worth of tens of millions of dollars have been sold in Canada and the proceeds have been handed to "victims of terrorist groups (allegedly) sponsored by Iran."
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Friday dismissed the Canadian move, saying that it is "a clear breach of the international law." Mousavi urged the Canadian government to "immediately" return the properties and revoke the decision.
"If Ottawa fails to immediately revoke the unlawful decision and does not compensate the damage, Tehran will take action to restore its rights based on international regulations," he was quoted as saying. "The government of Canada will be held responsible for all the consequences," he added.
[Full story here: Xinhua, September 14, 2019]
Long-running efforts to achieve essentially the same thing in the United States continue to follow a rocky trajectory. This is extracted from an August 9, 2019 Reuters report:
US verdict allowing seizure of Iran-linked Manhattan skyscraper is overturned 
Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A jury verdict allowing the U.S. government to seize a midtown Manhattan office tower that it said was effectively controlled by Iran was thrown out on Friday by a federal appeals court, which cited several errors by the trial judge. The 3-0 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan is a defeat for the Department of Justice, which went to trial hoping to sell the 36-story building at 650 Fifth Avenue, perhaps for close to $1 billion (829.26 million pounds), and distribute proceeds to victims of bombings and other attacks linked to Iran.
Jurors had found in June 2017 that the nonprofit Alavi Foundation, which had a 60% stake in the partnership that owned the building, violated U.S. sanctions imposed against Iran in 1995 because it knew that the 40% owner, Assa Corp, was a front for an Iranian state-owned lender, Bank Melli.
But in Friday’s decision, Circuit Judge Richard Wesley faulted trial judge Katherine Forrest, who is now in private practice, for “a troubling pattern of errors on relatively straightforward issues.” Wesley said these included admitting videotapes of former Alavi board members repeatedly invoking their constitutional right against self-incrimination, and refusing to let Alavi gather evidence to show the government sued too late.
“If this case returns to trial, a properly informed jury may or may not find for the government - a topic on which we have no opinion,” Wesley wrote. “But getting to any outcome requires a fair and procedurally adequate process, something that has been lacking in this case. There are no shortcuts in the rule of law.”
...The cases are In re: 650 Fifth Avenue and Related Properties, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 17-3258; and Havlish et al v 650 Fifth Avenue Co in the same court, No. 17-3278.
Setbacks notwithstanding, there's a comforting degree of vindication in seeing Iran's property seized and turned into cash compensation for the victims of its unparalleled global malevolence.

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