A Midtown office tower worth more than $500 million was, up until Friday, owned by Iranian companies.
However, after people sued Iran for damages over terrorist attacks, including those of Sept. 11, Manhattan Federal Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that the companies must forfeit the Fifth Ave. building.
In her written opinion, Forrest stated that because the companies acted as fronts for the Iranian government, under certain federal laws they “are” the government of Iran.
Forrest also ruled that six more properties in Queens, Texas, California, Virginia and Maryland should all be forfeited.
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The terrorism victims’ claims draw from a 2012 ruling in which federal judge George Daniels ordered Iran, Hezbollah, and Osama Bin Laden, amongst others, to pay victims more than $6 billion in damages. In a 2011 default judgment, Daniels also found Iran and other parties liable for the Sept. 11 attacks.
In a separate decision in September of last year, Forrest said the feds have the right to seize the 490-foot building in question, 650 Fifth Ave., partly because of money laundering acts.
While it is still unclear how various claims to the property will be sorted out, the feds have said that their aim will likely be to sell the building and use the proceeds to pay the victims some of the damages owed.
The building was constructed in 1979 by a nonprofit group connected to the shah of Iran.
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