By Suzanne Sataline
December 31, 2009
The former president of a foundation that federal investigators allege is a front for the Iranian government pleaded guilty to obstructing a grand jury probe.
Farshid Jahedi, the former head of the Alavi Foundation, admitted during his plea in U.S. District Court in New York that he tore up and tossed out documents that he knew would be subject to a subpoena issued as part of a grand jury investigation.
Lawyers for Mr. Jahedi didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment Wednesday.
The Alavi Foundation in New York City, according to its Web site, is a nonprofit that promotes Islamic culture and charitable causes.
Prosecutors claim it owns a New York City skyscraper with Assa Corp., a shell company that prosecutors claim has disguised an ownership interest by Iranian state-owned Bank Melli. The bank is subject to sanctions for allegedly financing Iran’s nuclear-proliferation efforts. Prosecutors are asking a judge to declare assets be seized, including the building, company and interest in the Alavi Foundation and Assa, as well as properties in other states.
Prosecutors say that in December 2008, Mr. Jahedi, the foundation’s president at the time, was served with a grand jury subpoena and asked for financial documents concerning the foundation, Assa and a related company. The next day, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents said they saw Mr. Jahedi discard torn documents into a public trash can near his then-residence in Ardsley, N.Y. The documents referred to Assa and a company owned with Alavi. Mr. Jahedi was charged in May.
When he is sentenced, scheduled for April 2, Mr. Jahedi, 55 years old, could receive up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
A spokesman for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in New York couldn’t be reached. A lawyer for Assa Corp. couldn’t be reached for comment.
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