US court approves plan to sell Iran assets in Manhattan

NEW YORK (TIP): A federal judge has approved plans to sell a 36-storey Manhattan office building and other properties owned by Iran nationwide in what will be the largest terrorism-related forfeiture ever, a prosecutor said on April 18. US attorney Preet Bharara said Judge Katherine Forrest approved the deal between the US government and 19 holders of more than $5 billion in terrorism-related judgments against the government of Iran, including claims brought by the estates of victims killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The deal calls for the Manhattan building and other forfeited assets to be sold by the US Marshals Service, with the US government receiving reimbursement for litigation expenses and any costs of the sales before the rest is distributed to victims of terrorist attacks. The agreement stems from a 2008 lawsuit by the government against the building’s owners.

Bharara said the settlement is an important step toward “completing what will be the largest ever terrorism-related forfeiture and providing a substantial recovery for victims of terrorism.” “From the very beginning of this case,” Bharara said in a release, “this office sought to dismantle Iran’s slice of Manhattan an office tower on Fifth Avenue both to end Iran’s illegal sanctions-violation and money-laundering schemes and to provide a means of compensating victims of Iraniansponsored terrorism.” Besides September 11 victims, the settling creditors include families and estates of victims of the 1983 terrorist bombings of US Marine Barracks in Beirut, the 1996 terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and terrorist attacks in Israel and elsewhere.

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