NEW YORK – The president of a foundation that co-owns a Manhattan building allegedly linked to a bank accused of supporting Iran's nuclear program was arrested Friday.
Jahedi Farshid, 54, the president of the Alavi Foundation, was charged with obstruction of justice after he tried on Thursday to throw away documents responsive to a subpoena he received one day earlier, federal prosecutors said.
An FBI complaint against Farshid said he was warned not to destroy documents requested by a grand jury. It said he disobeyed the order when he went home to Ardsley, N.Y., where he dumped papers in a public trash can.
The documents referred to Assa Limited, Assa Co. and 650 Fifth Ave. Co., subjects responsive to the subpoena, authorities said. Farshid's Alavi Foundation owns 60 percent of the building on Fifth Avenue.
The U.S. government said Assa Co. Ltd. was a front set up by Iran's Bank Melli to funnel money from the U.S. to Iran. Bank Melli has been accused of providing support for Iran's nuclear program. Earlier this week, the Treasury Department sought forfeiture of the 40 percent interest that Assa held in the building and the money in its bank accounts.
The government alleged the company violated U.S. sanctions with Iran and engaged in money laundering. It claimed that Assa Corp. had repeatedly transferred rental income from the building back to Bank Melli through Assa Co. Ltd.
The government also said Assa Corp. had shared financial and other information on a regular basis with Bank Melli.
Last year, the United States accused Bank Melli of providing services to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and put the bank on its list of companies whose assets must be frozen.
Prosecutors said the Alavi Foundation is the successor organization of the Pahlavi Foundation, a nonprofit group used by the Shah of Iran to advance Iran's charitable interests in the United States.
The Pahlavi Foundation built the Manhattan office tower with a substantial loan financed by Bank Melli, prosecutors said.
If convicted, Farshid could face up to 10 years in prison. A lawyer representing him and his foundation did not immediately return a call seeking comment.