A management consultant is accused of setting up a system for Iranians to move money internationally in violation of a US embargo, and federal prosecutors used his arrest to show they are trying to stop money from flowing to Iran.
Mahmoud Reza Banki, 33, of Manhattan, ignored the dangers of breaking laws designed to protect the United States when he set up a cash-transfer network known as a hawala, US Attorney Preet Bharara said.
"Our laws recognize a national emergency based upon the threat Iran poses to the security of the United States," Bharara said in a statement Thursday announcing the arrest.
A 2008 State Department report found that only 20 percent of money remitters in the United States had registered with the government even though it is a criminal offense to operate an unlicensed money-transfer business.
The Iran Trade Embargo, initiated in 1995, prohibits US citizens from supplying goods, services or technology to Iran or the government of Iran. Banki was charged with violating the embargo, operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business and conspiracy to do both.