U.S. not ready to remove Iranian group from terror list

May 9, 2012

CNN on May 8, 2012 released the following:

“By Jamie Crawford

An Iranian dissident group on the U.S. government’s list of terrorist organizations is showing signs of cooperation, but the United States has not decided whether to remove it from the list, a Department of Justice attorney told a federal appeals court panel Tuesday.

An attorney for Mujahedin-e Khalq urged a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to issue a writ of mandamus, essentially an order compelling the State Department to comply with a previous order, and to make a decision on delistment in a timely manner.

MEK is seeking the enforcement of a 2010 ruling by the same court ordering the State Department to review the group’s status on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. In its ruling, the District Court gave the State Department 180 days to review the request from MEK to be removed from the terror list.

Robert Loeb, who argued the case on behalf of the administration, said the lack of total unfettered access to the MEK’s base inside Iraq demands more deliberation and time be given to the decision. Loeb argued questions still remain whether “hard core” elements of the group harbor weapons inside the base and thus retain the “capacity” to launch attacks.

Once the base is completely emptied, a decision on MEK’s status could be made within 60 days, the U.S. government has said. In court, Loeb stipulated that 60-day period could be subject to extension based on anything learned within that period.

The group has been on the terror list since 1997 because of the deaths of Americans during the 1970s. The group was granted refuge in Iraq by Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. The MEK supports the overthrow of the Iranian theocracy.

The Obama administration has argued it needs to assess the MEK’s move from its previous base of operations at Camp Ashraf in Iraq to a processing center at a former U.S. base in Iraq before making its decision. The move is being conducted under U.N. auspices after the Iraqi government ordered the camp closed at the end of 2011.

Mark Toner, deputy State Department spokesman, released a statement this past weekend praising the “continued cooperation” of Camp Ashraf residents. Over half of the approximately 3,000 residents of Camp Ashraf have been relocated to Camp Hurriya, Toner said, with the goal of eventually settling in countries outside Iraq.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate panel last year that the way the transfer was carried out would influence the eventual decision on removing the group from the terror list.

Loeb said the administration understands the “duty” to make a timely decision on MEK’s status, but said the administration also has a duty to the public to “get it right.”

The group is also known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran.

Viet Dinh, a former Justice Department lawyer representing the MEK, said the group no longer poses a military threat because the U.S. Army peacefully disarmed the group after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The U.S. government treated MEK members as protected people under international law until the U.S. turned over responsibility to the Iraqi government.

Dinh told the court the State Department’s delay in making a decision is a violation of MEK’s due process rights, and liberties granted under the U.S. Constitution.

“The secretary has recognized (MEK’s) renunciation of violence and is legally bound to delist the organization,” Dinh wrote in a filing in February.” She cannot pocket veto (MEK’s) application for revocation of its terrorist status.”

Col. Wes Martin, who served as base commander of Camp Ashraf in 2006 and was present for Tuesday’s proceedings, called Loeb’s argument “nonsense.” Martin, who supports MEK’s removal from the terror list, told CNN he was certain Camp Ashraf has been completely disarmed.

The MEK enjoys the support of prominent high-ranking officials from past Democratic and Republican administrations who speak out against the group’s continued presence on the terror list.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Ex-McKinsey Consultant Banki’s Conviction Reversed in Part

October 26, 2011
Mahmoud Reza Banki

Business Week on October 24, 2011 released the following:

“By Bob Van Voris and Patricia Hurtado

(Updates with hearing date in 14th paragraph.)

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) — Former McKinsey & Co. consultant Mahmoud Reza Banki’s convictions for violating the Iran trade embargo and running an unlicensed money-transfer business were thrown out on appeal.

A federal appeals court in New York today reversed Banki’s June 2010 conviction on three counts that charged him with violating U.S. regulations barring trade with Iran and running an informal transfer business called a hawala.

The court upheld Banki’s convictions on two counts of lying in response to a subpoena from the U.S. Treasury Department about the matter. The court said prosecutors may retry Banki on two of the three overturned counts.

Banki, who has been in U.S. custody since his arrest in January 2010, has served most of his 30-month sentence and is due to be released no later than March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website.

The decision today may affect the government’s attempt to collect $3.3 million in asset forfeitures it’s seeking in connection with the overturned criminal charges.

Banki, 35, is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran. He has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Princeton University.

‘Life Back Together’

“He’s going to be able to put his life back together and live a very productive life,” said Baruch Weiss, a lawyer for Banki.

Banki used a system called a hawala, popular in the Middle East and South Asia, to transfer funds, according to the appeals court.

U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin, writing for a three-judge appeals panel, said Banki’s family transferred $3.4 million to him from Iran. He received as many as 56 hawala transfers into his bank account from 44 different people and companies over more than three years, Chin said.

In a hawala, money doesn’t physically move through the banking system across borders. Instead, customers transfer funds to operators known as hawaladars in one country, and corresponding funds are distributed by associate hawaladars in another country. The parallel accounts are later settled by the hawaladars in a variety of ways.

Defense lawyers claimed Banki didn’t violate the law because he got the money from his family and reported the funds to the U.S. government.

“This is a vindication of the defense,” Weiss said of the appeals court decision.

Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, said his office was reviewing the opinion and had no further comment.

U.S. District Judge John Keenan set a hearing in the case for Nov. 2, according to Weiss.

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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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

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OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.