What is your source for these stats?
I've heard the hundred million dollar figure on various discussion boards and a couple of articles. As far as the agents at 5,000, that's not surprising considering 15% of the Iranian populace support the current government and there are over 1.4M Iranians in the US.
The Alavi Foundation:
Among the properties Iran held in America that Berger's office declared was fair game was a 36-story office complex at 52nd St. and Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, worth an estimated $135 million. Built in the 1970s with Iranian government money, today it is owned by the non-profit Alavi Foundation of New York, the successor of the Iranian government-controlled Pahlavi Foundation.
In addition to the skyscraper, the Alavi Foundation owns four "Islamic Education Centers" in Potomac, Md.; Queens, N.Y.; Houston, Texas; and Carmichael, Calif. The Maryland property alone is valued at more than $5.7 million, according to real estate records. The Houston property is worth an estimated $3.2 million.
In Queens, N.Y., the foundation has pumped more than $10.4 million into its Imam Ali Islamic Education Center since March 1991. The foundation has an assortment of other real estate holdings around the country, including 20 acres of prime development land in Catharpin, Va., assessed at $1.9 million but potentially worth several times that amount to developers.
Several Iranian-Americans have attempted to gain control of the Alavi Foundation in the U.S. courts over the past decade. Who controls the foundation, established by the shah's government in 1975 to provide scholarships to young Iranians studying in the United States, has become a cause celebre among Iranian-Americans.
"These properties belong to the people of Iran," said Aryo Pirouznia, an Iranian-American activist who has spearheaded an Internet-based support group for the pro-democracy student movement that has rocked the ruling clerics with demonstrations over the past year. "These assets do not belong to the regime."
Attempts by the Flatow lawyers to attach the Alavi Foundation properties and other assets have been blocked by the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., at every step of the way, despite President Clinton's repeated claims that he is helping the families. Separate lawsuits filed in Houston, Texas, and San Diego, Calif., to attach Iranian government properties and state-owned banks were also rejected, after Justice Department lawyers objected.
In February 1999, Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey set up another meeting for Flatow with the president on the sidelines of a National Prayer Breakfast. Despite having personally blocked Flatow's efforts to attach Iran's assets, Clinton oozed sympathy and continued to ask what he could do to help.
"We told him he could help by unfreezing the Nations Bank account where the rent from Iran's diplomatic properties is being held," Flatow said. "Clinton turned to Berger, and told him to get on it."
Once again, Flatow says, he was tricked into believing he had the president's support. When his lawyers filed a motion to attach the Nations Bank account, the Justice Department once again opposed them, filing a motion to quash. By November 1999, the Justice Department had assigned 14 government lawyers to the case.
"That's more than they assigned to the Microsoft anti-trust suit," said Flatow family attorney Thomas Fortune Fay.
The Alavi Foundation
The Pahlavi Foundation in New York and its parent, the Pahlavi Foundation in Tehran, were seized by the revolutionary government of Ayatollah Khomeini in a decree dated Feb. 28, 1979.
The Shah's assets and those of his supporters were placed under the direct legal control of the supreme leader, in theory to be managed "in favor of the needy." Today, the foundation is controlled by law by his successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, who appoints a chairman to manage its day-to-day affairs.
In Iran, the foundation controlled vast real estate holdings, factories and luxury resorts. It had share-holdings in major joint-venture corporations set up in Iran with foreign partners, including General Motors and Jeep.
In the United States, its main asset was the 36-story mid-town Manhattan office building. Back in 1979, it was valued at approximately $50 million. The revolutionaries forced the resignation of the foundation's pro-Shah Board of Directors in 1979, replacing them with persons loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini. Top among them was Mohammad Hadi Nejad Hosseinian, who assumed control of the Foundation on Aug. 27, 1979.
Nejad-Hosseinian today serves as the Islamic Republic's ambassador to the United Nations, after 20 years in various government positions in Tehran. Under his leadership, the foundation proceeded to establish "Islamic Education" centers around the U.S., with the aim of spreading pro-regime propaganda.
In recent years, the centers have become a magnet for the Iranian community by offering Farsi-language primary school classes that are fully accredited with the Iranian national educational system. But they continue to spread virulent anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda, including videotaped speeches of neo-Nazis such as Ahmed Huber, who praises Ayatollah Khomeini as the living embodiment of Adolf Hitler.
Over the past five years, the foundation has financed a Farsi-language satellite TV network in the United States known as Aftab television, which rebroadcasts state-run television programs from Tehran. Aftab is controlled through a New York agency, Cina Productions.
Despite the foundation's clear ties to Tehran, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control failed to include it in lists of Iranian government assets it published following President Clinton's trade embargo in May 1995.
Officials at the Office of Foreign Assets Control said in interviews that they had not been able to establish Tehran's "day-to-day control" over the foundation in a manner that would hold up in a U.S. court. A U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York agreed, and in late 1995 rejected an effort by an Iranian-American to attach assets of the Alavi Foundation to satisfy a claim against the government of Iran.
These rulings came despite a May 18, 1988, investigation by the New York district office of the Internal Revenue Service. An IRS memo documenting the probe, obtained by this reporter, concluded that the Alavi Foundation was controlled by Tehran. (It was then called the Mostazafan Foundation, after its parent foundation in Tehran).
On page 1, the IRS notes that the entire capital of the original foundation, $42,000,000, was provided in 1975 by the Central Bank of Iran "on instructions from the Shah." The money was used to construct the building at 650 Fifth Ave. The Central Bank "used another bank in Iran, Bank Melli, as its agent for transfer of funds to the United States."
The report goes on: "The entire $42,000,000 was given interest-free to the Mostazafan Foundation and is secured by a mortgage on the property at 650 Fifth Avenue." It was to be repaid in "15 annual installments of $2,800,000 each, commencing in December 1978 ..."
After repeated defaults by the foundation following the revolution, they re-negotiated the repayment schedule with Bank Melli.
"The debtor-creditor relationship in this case is cloudy and does not appear to be an arms length relationship," the IRS concluded. "Trustees of Mostazafan Foundation historically have been appointed by the government of Iran and it has been demonstrated that the Bank Melli is an instrument of the government of Iran. Therefore, Mostazafan Foundation and Bank Melli both may be controlled by the government of Iran."
Despite this and numerous other documents presented to U.S. District Court in New York, the administration continues to allow the Alavi Foundation to finance propaganda activities in the United States with impunity.
The Iranian government still owns a 6-story Manhattan townhouse that used to serve as the residence of the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations. Located at 34 East 69th St., it was appraised for tax purposes at $5 million in 1995.
The Treasury Department has managed the property on behalf of the Iranian government since the 1979-81 hostage crisis. At one point, the Office of Foreign Assets Control rented the house to a criminal lawyer named Ivan Fisher for $50,000 per month. That money went into an escrow account for the Iranian government, which the Clinton administration has prevented the Flatow lawyers from attaching.
On April 14, 1997, the Alavi Foundation purchased land in Queens from the Korean Presbyterian Church for $405,000. That transfer occurred despite U.S. regulations banning financial transactions by the government of Iran in the United States.
In Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., the Alavi Foundation purchased six separate lots located on Georgia Lane, in the Waldwoods subdivision. The foundation transferred ownership through an insiders deal to a private corporation, repurchased it, refinanced it, and flipped the properties in the early 1990s.
U.S. government investigators believe profits from this and numerous other real estate transactions were done as a means of financing undeclared activities by the Alavi Foundation and the Iranian government in the United States. Bank Melli and Bank Saderat -- both agencies of the Iranian government -- also engaged in a variety of real estate holdings across America. Bank Melli recently purchased property assessed at $694,000 at 135 Puritan Ave. in Flushing, N.Y. In Los Angeles, a 1995 court judgment against four rug and furniture companies gave it liens worth several million dollars.
Bank Saderat has won title to numerous properties in California over the past five years as a result of mortgage defaults. These include a $2 million villa located at 515 North Rodeo Drive in the center of Beverly Hills, condominiums, lots, a convenience store, and more.
In February 1995, just three months before President Clinton's executive order, Bank Saderat established a separate corporation, the California Land Holding Corporation, to manage its real estate portfolio.
Bank Saderat's New York agency director, Ibrahim Bahmaie, was listed as the company's president. Following the trade embargo, the company transferred its assets to a series of front companies, which have continued to shuffle them to throw investigators off the scent.
A preliminary review of corporate and real estate documents relating to these holdings shows that the California Land Holding Corporation may control as much as $10 million in property through various front companies. Because they are a direct subsidiary of Bank Saderat, their holdings are the property of the Government of Iran and could be seized under the anti-terrorism legislation -- if President Clinton had not taken steps to protect them.
But the mother lode has been hiding beneath the noses of the Flatow attorneys since day one. And it makes all these other holdings -- even the Fifth Ave. skyscraper -- look like small potatoes by comparison.