Owned by the Alavi Foundation, this building in New York’s fifth avenue has hit the headlines over the past several years. The accusation; money laundering by transferring cash to Iran.
But what is the Alavi Foundation itself? The mission started even before Iran’s Islamic revolution under the name of the Pahlavi foundation to promote the Persian culture and help support Iranians living in the states not to forget their Persian culture.
After Iran’s Islamic revolution much has remained the same and the foundation still supports Persian schools and community centers but also Islamic centers and mosques and helps middle-eastern studies as well. One of the major goals sought is supporting Weekend Persian Schools throughout the United States that link Iranian-Americans with their Persian heritage. I sat with one of these students as she told us of her experience there and her personal experience.
In the last four decades, the Alavi Foundation has given millions of dollars to schools, universities and charitable organizations; among them Harvard, Columbia and Rutgers university.
But the work never stopped there. It has even helped the William J. Clinton foundation and recently the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
So what’s the problem then? 40% of the stake of the 36-storey tower is said to be owned by Assa Corporation.
A federal judge authorized the seizure of this building this week saying it had violated federal money laundering laws and sanctions against Iran. Prosecutors claim Assa Corporation is a front for a bank owned and controlled by the Iranian government, and that the co-owners have allegedly been transferring rental income back to Tehran. Transferring the yearly rental income of about 5 million dollars to Iran that has a G-D-P of nearly half a trillion looks like a strange joke to experts.
A Jewish Iranian parliamentarian told me, that those accusations are ridiculous, and are really aimed at Iran’s culture.
In a statement, the foundation expressed disappointment for not being given a chance to rebut the government evidence before a jury, still saying it has reviewed the decision and is ready for trial.
The future of the organization is now hanging in the balance, and so will be the fate of Persian and Islamic schools. In other words, the connection between nearly 500-thousand Iranians living in the U-S and their cultural roots is indeed in jeopardy.
By Press TV
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