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.

Economic Coercion, with a Chinese Twist

28th February 2017 – Foreign Policy

Economic Coercion, with a Chinese Twist

Eric B. Lorber

During the campaign and through the early days of the Trump administration, policymakers and pundits have zeroed in on the U.S. economic relationship with China, in particular whether Beijing artificially manipulates its currency and whether the terms of America’s economic engagement are “fair.” more...

Analysis & Commentary

23rd March 2017 – Foreign Policy

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

John Hannah, Emanuele Ottolenghi

As if the political and economic chaos wracking Venezuela wasn’t worrying enough, a couple of recent stories underscore the potential national security threat brewing there. more...

23rd March 2017 – The Weekly Standard

Restarting the Fight Against Terror-Funding Charities

Jonathan Schanzer

Busting terrorist charities here in the United States was a low priority for the last eight years under Barack Obama. It's time for the Trump administration to instruct the bureaucracy to get back into this important fight. more...

22nd March 2017 – WINA 98.9FM

The Schilling Show

Anthony Ruggiero

FDD senior fellow Anthony Ruggiero comments on recent North Korea activity such as the failed missile and how the Trump sanctions effects them. more...

22nd March 2017 – Quoted by One Free Korea

Royce introduces bill to toughen sanctions on N. Korea; subcommittee holds hearing

Anthony Ruggiero

The big news yesterday was that Ed Royce, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has introduced a sequel to the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, or NKSPEA. more...