WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. officials seized a midtown Manhattan building owned by a company allegedly affiliated with a sanctioned Iranian bank.
"The Department of Justice filed a civil forfeiture action seeking to forfeit all right, title and interest of Assa Corp., Assa Co. Ltd., and Bank Melli in a Manhattan office tower on Fifth Avenue," said a statement released Wednesday by a number of agencies, including the State Department.
Bank Melli is one of at least two Iranian banks that is on a U.S. list of entities sanctioned for ties to Iran’s energy sector and by extension its suspected nuclear weapons program.
Assa’s parent company is based in the Channel Islands, the semi-autonomous British entities in the English Channel that boast liberal offshore banking regulations.
"As a result of Treasury’s actions today, all property and interests in property of Assa Corp. and Assa Co. Ltd. that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and may not be transferred or otherwise dealt in," the statement said.
The corporation "co-owns a property on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan with the Alavi Foundation of New York, a non-profit Iranian charitable organization," the statement said.