US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara called the Foundation “a front for the government of Iran.” He added: “For two decades, the Alavi Foundation’s affairs have been directed by various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors to the United Nations, in violation of a series of American laws.”
The complaint alleges that the Alavi foundation illegally funneled millions of dollars in rental income back to Iran’s state-owned Bank Melli. It accuses the foundation of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, executive orders, and U.S. Department of Treasury regulations.
Thursday’s action appears to be the latest move in an older case against the Alavi Foundation that began with a grand jury investigation last year.
The properties seized include land in Virginia, a Manhattan office tower, and Islamic centers housing mosques and schools in New York city, Houston, Texas Carmichael, California; and Rockville, Maryland.
The US Attorney’s office say they do not allege any wrongdoing on the part of tenants and occupants of the seized properties.
But in a press release late Thursday the Council on American Islamic Relations warns that the seizure of places of worship may have First Amendment implications for the American Muslim community.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.