By Mehrnoush Yazdanyar
November 9, 2011, San Farncisco, CA – On October 20th, 2011, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), in collaboration with the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) and Stanford University’s Persian Student Association (PSA) hosted an informative panel discussion entitled “Iran Sanctions: Legal Implications for Iranian Americans.” The event, which was held at Stanford University, included a panel of experts including Farhad Alavi of BHFA Law Group, Eric Ferrari of Ferrari Legal, and Mehrnoush Yazdanyar of Yazdanyar Law Offices. All of these individuals have extensive experience in representing and advising individuals and businesses that are under investigation by OFAC and/or the US Department of Justice. The panelists gave extremely informative presentations regarding the legal requirements for moving funds between the United States and Iran and responded to audience questions.
The seminar outlined the regulations — and risks — Iranian Americans must navigate when engaging in any sort of transaction with those in Iran. The discussion included an analysis of Mr. Reza Banki’s case in which an Iranian-American was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment for receiving family money from Iran. Though Mr. Banki’s conviction for violating the Iranian Transactions Regulations was ultimately overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on October 24 (nearly 2 years after Banki’s arrest and imprisonment), this case serves as a strong warning for individuals seeking to execute the same or any kind of transfer with Iran.
Following the presentations, a stirring Q&A provided audience members (who ranged from legal professionals to concerned citizens) with information on the sanctions and how to decide whether they needed further legal consultation. The speakers highly recommended that anyone wishing to liquidate assets or bring any type of goods from Iran into the United States seek legal counseling before acting in a manner that could leave them in violation of the sanctions.
While PAAIA is focused on domestic U.S. affairs as they relate to the Iranian American community and has not been a platform for promoting U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis Iran, we recognize the importance of Iranian Americans being informed about policies and regulations, which may affect them directly. Accordingly, the purpose of “Iran Sanctions: Legal Implications for Iranian Americans” series is to help educate Iranian Americans about current trade law and regulations between the United States and Iran.