Iran has begun legal action that the government hopes will lead to recovery of billions of dollars of the ousted shah's wealth allegedly plundered from Iran.
The announcement was made today by Iran's central bank governor, Alireza Nobari, on the eve of his departure for Algeria and a number of other countries on a tour partly aimed at finding means of countering the economic pressures being coordinated by the United States against Iran.
The first step in pursuit of the wealth of the shah and his family was delivery today to Iran's prosecutor general of a 27-page file identifying about $600 million of the shah's family assets.
"We have gone to court to tell them how much the shah and his family embezzled from Iranian funds," said Nobari, emphasizing that this petition was "only a partial one." He added, "we have asked for roughly $600 million, but our initial calculations show the amount can go up to $10 billion."
Nobari argued that "once we go to Iranian courts [they] will forward our petition to courts in the United States and Europe so that legally we would be able to find and freeze the shah's money and his family's money."
Nobari suggested that the action would move from Iran to courts in the United States and Europe in "maybe a few days."
"I would show money was sent from the government account for the purpose of buying a house, not from the ex-shah's personal account," he said. "Then I would say this is the money they owe me, so this is the house they should give me back."
In a related development, Nobari said the central bank already started suits against American bank branches for freezing Iranian assets in France and the United Kingdom, shortly to be followed, he said, by similar actions in West Germany and Switzerland.
He said that U.S. bank branches abroad were legally bound by the laws of the host country and attacked the U.S. branches for freezing assets "without going to court in their countries and without sending us notices." President Carter ordered the freeze after a takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
The American banks had "debited from our [government] account what some private institutions in Iran owed them," Nobari said, adding that most of the funds concerned had been borrowed by the shah or his family for their own purposes.
He complained that the American government had prevented European and Japanese, as well as American, companies from exporting to Iran.
"In many cases they have cancelled their letters of credit, in many cases they just don't [load] goods on ships," Nobari said.