Iran General NewsFormer McKinsey consultant Banki convicted in Iran trade case

Former McKinsey consultant Banki convicted in Iran trade case

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Bloomberg: Former McKinsey & Co. consultant Mahmoud Reza Banki was convicted by a federal jury in New York of violating the Iran trade embargo and running an unlicensed money-transfer business.

By Patricia Hurtado

June 5 (Bloomberg) — Former McKinsey & Co. consultant Mahmoud Reza Banki was convicted by a federal jury in New York of violating the Iran trade embargo and running an unlicensed money-transfer business.

The jury took about four hours to convict Banki of all five charges against him. U.S. District Judge John Keenan in New York, who is presiding over the case, told the panel to return June 7 and he will instruct them on the law regarding a forfeiture. The government will ask that he surrender $3.4 million in illegal proceeds. Banki’s lawyer, Baruch Weiss, declined comment after the verdict.

Banki, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran, was accused of running a “value-transfer” business that essentially moved money to residents of Iran from 2006 to 2009 in violation of the embargo. Banki received about $4.7 million as part of the transfer process and used the money to buy a $2.4 million condominium, invest in securities and pay credit-card bills, the government charged.

“There is an additional thing you’ll have to do, which is the forfeiture of assets,” Keenan told the panel and he advised them not speak to anyone or read about the case until they have concluded their deliberations. “Return to court Monday afternoon and I will charge you on the law regarding forfeiture.”

Family Money

Banki, who has been in custody since his arrest on the charges in January, didn’t show any reaction to the verdict. His mother and girlfriend began sobbing and as he was led away by U.S. Marshals, his mother attempted to hug her son. “Just a minute for his mother,” she said. “Ma’am, I’m sorry,” a marshal said as he was escorted out of the courtroom to a holding cell.

Defense lawyers told the jury during the trial that Banki got the money from his family and reported the funds to the government.

Prosecutors alleged during the trial that Banki received the wire transfers in a personal Bank of America Corp. account he set up for that purpose. The money came from companies and individuals in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Latvia, Slovenia, Russia, Sweden, the Philippines, the U.S. and other countries, prosecutors said.

Banki allegedly used a value-transfer system called hawala, in which money doesn’t physically cross international boundaries through the banking system, according to the statement.

Customers transfer funds to operators known as hawaladars in one country, and corresponding funds are distributed by associate hawaladars to recipients in another country, according to the statement. The parallel accounts are later settled by the hawaladars in a variety of ways.

The jury convicted Banki of five counts, including conspiracy, violating the Iran trade embargo, operating an unlicensed money transfer process and two counts of making false statements. No sentencing date has been set.

The case is U.S. v. Banki, 1:10-CR-00008, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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