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.

Fine Tuning the Cuba Embargo

15th June 2017 – Foreign Policy

Fine Tuning the Cuba Embargo

Eric B. Lorber

This week, President Donald Trump will reportedly announce the re-imposition of certain economic sanctions on Cuba that were unwound during the recent diplomatic thaw between the United States and its southern neighbor. more...

Analysis & Commentary

15th June 2017 – Quoted by Rebecca Shabad - CBS News

Senate passes measure to expand sanctions on Iran and Russia

Mark Dubowitz

The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed legislation that would impose new U.S. sanctions that would target Iran's ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism and human rights violations, and yet it would still comply with the Iranian nuclear deal. more...

14th June 2017 – Washington Times

The Qatar Ultimatum

The Qatar Ultimatum

Clifford D. May

In the aftermath of the terrorist atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush drew a line in the sand. “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make,” he announced. “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Since then, disappointingly if not surprisingly, more than a few nations have straddled that line, providing support to America and America’s enemies alike. more...

13th June 2017 – FDD Research Memo

A New North Korea Sanctions Approach

A New North Korea Sanctions Approach

Anthony Ruggiero

The United Nations Panel of Experts reported in February that Pyongyang uses non-North Korean facilitators and front companies to evade UN sanctions. more...

13th June 2017 – Quoted by Dan De Luce, Elias Groll - Foreign Policy

Trump White House Stays Quiet as Russia Flouts North Korea Sanctions

Anthony Ruggiero

Trump administration officials and lawmakers are increasingly concerned that Russia is stepping up trade with North Korea in defiance of international sanctions, jeopardizing a U.S. effort to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs. more...