Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance

About the Center:

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF) expands upon FDD’s success as a leading think tank on the use of financial and economic measures in national security. The Center’s purpose is to provide policy and subject matter expertise in areas of illicit finance, financial power, and economic pressure to the global policy community.

The Center is led by Mark Dubowitz, Juan Zarate, Chip Poncy, and Jonathan Schanzer.

CSIF seeks to illuminate the critical intersection between the full range of illicit finance activities and national security, including money laundering, terrorist financing, sanctions evasion, proliferation financing, cyber crime and economic espionage, and corruption and kleptocracy. This includes understanding how America can best use and preserve its financial and economic power to promote its interests and the integrity of the financial system. The Center also examines how America’s adversaries may be leveraging economic tools and power.

CSIF’s core goals are as follows:

  1. Promoting greater understanding of illicit financing and economic threats, vulnerabilities, and warfare, especially as they evolve and threaten U.S. interests;
  2. Designing creative and effective strategies, doctrines, and uses of financial and economic power to attack and protect against priority threats and vulnerabilities; and
  3. Catalyzing global action, in both the public and private sectors, to advance security and address core challenges to effective implementation of financial power.

CSIF achieves these goals by:

  1. Researching, analyzing, and developing products to identify priority illicit financing and economic vulnerabilities and counter-illicit financing challenges;
  2. Devising strategies, policies, and options to isolate specific rogue targets, networks, and regimes;
  3. Creating plans and options to address emerging economic vulnerabilities; and
  4. Sponsoring events and interacting with communities of interest to promote effective implementation and action.

CSIF focuses on global illicit finance, including the financing of terrorism, weapons and nuclear proliferation, corruption, and environmental crime. It has a particular emphasis on Iran, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Russia, and other autocratic states as well as drug cartels and terrorist groups including the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

The Center relies on regional and sanctions expertise within FDD including a core cadre of financial, economic, and area experts and analysts. CSIF is guided by a senior, expert Board of Advisors, that provides strategic guidance, leads initiatives, and assists in outreach. It also relies on key partnerships and expert service providers and engages a range of stakeholders to amplify the depth and reach of its work.

CSIF works to expand the understanding of illicit finance threats to America’s national security and the nature of economic warfare in the 21st century in order to develop further the strategies of American financial suasion.

New Sanctions Highlight the Need to Counter Iran’s Non-Nuclear Threats

20th July 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

New Sanctions Highlight the Need to Counter Iran’s Non-Nuclear Threats

Tyler Stapleton, Behnam Ben Taleblu

In a joint effort on Tuesday, the Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice released new designations of Iranian, Chinese, and Turkish procurement networks that have facilitated material support for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the country’s ballistic missile program. more...

Analysis & Commentary

20th July 2017 – Quoted by Iran Focus

Trump Wanted to Find Iran Non-Compliant With Nuclear but Was Talked out of It

Mark Dubowitz

Donald Trump wanted to declare Iran as noncompliant with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal but was talked out of it by national security aides shortly ahead of the midnight deadline, according to administration officials. more...

20th July 2017 – Quoted by Brandi Buchman - Courthouse News Service

House Committee Grapples With North Korea Sanctions

Anthony Ruggiero

Experts told lawmakers Wednesday that low-level Chinese businessmen dabbling in money laundering and the trafficking of materials for nuclear power reactors in North Korea are making effective sanctions on Pyongyang close to impossible. more...

19th July 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

Congress and the Administration Need to Reinvigorate HIFPA

Congress and the Administration Need to Reinvigorate HIFPA

Tyler Stapleton

Although it signed HIFPA into law, the Obama administration did not fully leverage its provisions. But now Congress and the executive branch have the opportunity to implement the legislation fully and use both HIFPA and all other tools at the disposal of the U.S. government to pursue Hezbollah operatives and financiers around the globe, including in the Western Hemisphere. more...

18th July 2017 – Quoted by Eliot Bakker - The Federalist

Why It’s Time To Remove The United States’ Air Base From Qatar

David Andrew Weinberg

With Doha more defiant than ever, the United States needs to take more drastic action and remove a crutch that has been propping up the emirate for too long: Al-Udeid. more...