Mahmoud Reza Banki was born in Tehran; Reza left his family and Iran after high school for the promise of the American Dream. He has been a US citizen for 20 years. He graduated with double bachelors from UC Berkeley in Applied Mathematics and Chemical Engineering and went on to get his PhD from Princeton University in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. He has published a biotech book and worked at the New York offices of McKinsey & Company for several years mostly in mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and medical device space. Most recently he graduated from the MBA program at UCLA Anderson School of Management with a focus on Finance.
Reza’s American dream was shattered when he was wrongfully imprisoned in the United States. He was arrested in January 2010 and incarcerated for 22 months (665 days). He was prosecuted and convicted initially until an appellate court overturned the guilty verdicts on charges of violating U.S. sanctions laws on Iran. These charges were brought against him as a result of having received money from family in Iran; money he used to purchase a home in New York City. The Second Circuit Appellate court ruled that because of the family remittance exemption the convictions could not stand. Hence, after nearly serving the entirety of his prison term (47 days short), he was released from federal prison in November 2011.
Reza has since spoken on the topic of criminal justice reform and wrongful prosecution. He has a soon-to-be-release talk from TED week at UCLA Anderson on this topic. Legal documents, the TED teaser, a documentary teaser, an interview with NPR and more are available at: www.RezaStory.com