Iran Lashes Out at Canadian Court Decision to Award $7 Million in Seized Assets to Terror Victims
Iran lashed out at a decision by a Canadian court to award $7 million in seized Iranian assets to victims of Iran-backed terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, according to Canada’s National Post on Monday.
“Given the approach of the Canadian government, it is crystal clear that the verdict is politically motivated and such rulings have no legal value,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Press TV, cited by the National Post.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency claimed the ruling was based on “the fabricated allegation” that Iran supported terrorist groups, while semi-official state broadcaster FARS said Tehran had reminded “the Ottawa government of its international commitment” to protect diplomatic properties, the newspaper reported.
National Post said that following years of deteriorating relations, Canada severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012, expelling all of the Islamic Republic’s diplomats. At the same time, the Canadian government designated Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism, ending their state immunity from lawsuits.
The 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act permitted victims of terror to seek damages from the state sponsors of their attackers, while the government also amended the State Immunity Act to allow the lawsuits.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled last week that Iranian funds in Canadian bank accounts and two properties in Toronto and Ottawa should be seized and split among terror victims. The newspaper said the judgement came after Iran failed to defend itself in court and sheriffs were ordered to take the Iranian assets. The groundbreaking court decision finalized four lawsuits filed in Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia by terror victims seeking damages from Iran for training, arming and financing Hamas, in Gaza, and Lebanon-based Hezbollah, the National Post said.
Only one of the plaintiffs is a Canadian, Vancouver dentist Sherri Wise, who was severely injured by a Hamas suicide bomber, it said. The others are American terror victims who came to Canada to collect on judgments awarded by U.S. courts.
After the ruling, a Scotiabank account containing $1.7 million controlled by Iranian diplomat Hamid Moharrami, and a Royal Bank of Canada account with a balance of â‚¬333,000 controlled by Reza Shaker, the Iranian embassy’s chargé d’affaires, were seized. According to Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Iran has 14 Canadian bank accounts holding at least $2.6 million.
A building in Toronto, owned by Farhangeiran Inc., and another in Ottawa, owned by The Mobin Foundation, were both seized and will be sold.
The “evidence overwhelmingly permits me to conclude that both properties are beneficially owned by Iran and constitute non-diplomatic assets of Iran in Canada,” the judge wrote. He said there was evidence the Ottawa property was linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The Iranian embassy and official residence in Ottawa are considered diplomatic property and therefore cannot be seized, the National Post said.