May 6, 2009 -- The president of a non-profit organization that the U.S. government has long suspected of being a front for Iranian espionage and anti-American activities has been indicted on charges that he allegedly destroyed documents just one day after receiving a grand jury subpoena instructing him not to do so.
Farshid Jahedi, president of the Alavi Foundation, which is headquartered in Manhattan, will be arraigned on Friday on charges of obstruction of justice.
The Alavi Foundation has been described by a former CIA official as "totally controlled by the government of Iran," according to court documents related to the New York Police Department's investigation. "The foundation funds a variety of anti-American causes, including the four Islamic education centers it owns in New York, Maryland, Texas, and California…Mosques funded by Alavi have organizations which support Hezbollah and Hamas."
As part of a federal investigation into Alavi's connection with Bank Melli Iran, which has been accused of supporting Iran's nuclear program, Jahedi was served with a grand jury subpoena on December 17, 2008 instructing him to provide documents ranging from financial statements to emails and faxes dating back to 1989. Jahedi was at the time cautioned by FBI agents not to destroy any documents relating to the subpoena, according to an FBI compliant.
But just the very next day, FBI agents tailing Jahedi say they observed him leaving the office and later driving "in a circuitous manner to a location near his residence".
"After exiting the car, Jahedi walked to a public trash can, while appearing to attempt to determine whether or not anyone was following," reads the compliant. "Upon reaching the trash can, Jahedi discarded papers he had retrieved from his pockets." FBI agents retrieved the papers and determined that they appeared to be responsive to the subpoena.
According to its website, the Alavi Foundation was founded in 1973 and is "devoted to the promotion and support of Islamic culture and Persian language, literature and civilization." Programs include grants to colleges, donations to Islamic organization, disaster relief, and support of the arts.
Alavi Foundation Insists It Has No Link to Iran's Government
The employee who answered the phone at the foundation Wednesday said the foundation had no comment on the indictment of its president. Calls to the law firm that represents the foundation were not immediately returned, but the foundation would not comment as to whether or not Jahedi had retained his own counsel.
No criminal charges have been brought against the foundation but it continues to be under investigation and is closely monitored as an alleged "front" for Iran.
In 1989 the Alavi Foundation in partnership with Bank Melli formed 650 Fifth Avenue Company, but tried to disguise Bank Melli's ownership interest through Assa Corporation, according to the complaint. Bank Melli allegedly helped to finance Iran's nuclear program.