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.

Wakeup Call for Chinese Banks on North Korea Sanctions

6th November 2017 – FDD's Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance Policy Brief

Wakeup Call for Chinese Banks on North Korea Sanctions

Anthony Ruggiero

The Treasury Department on Thursday issued an advisory on North Korea’s use of the international financial system to evade U.S. and UN sanctions. The advisory sent an unmistakable message to senior compliance officers in Chinese banks: Treasury knows you are violating North Korea sanctions and this is your last warning. more...

Analysis & Commentary

22nd November 2017 – FDD's Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance Policy Brief

Congress Supports Financial Transparency for Iranian Transactions

Congress Supports Financial Transparency for Iranian Transactions

Annie Fixler , Tyler Stapleton

The House Financial Services Committee approved last week the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act, which codifies in law a set of conditions that the U.S. Treasury must use to evaluate licenses for the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran. more...

21st November 2017 – Quoted by Jesse Johnson - The Japan Times

U.S. relisting of North Korea as state sponsor of terror seen as symbolic step with limited impact

Anthony Ruggiero

The decision by the United States to relist North Korea’s “murderous regime” as a state sponsor of terrorism hands Washington and Tokyo a symbolic victory, but will do little to solve the nuclear crisis roiling the Korean Peninsula, experts say. more...

21st November 2017 – Quoted by Joel Schectman and David Brunnstrom - Reuters

U.S. sanctions 13 Chinese and North Korean organizations

Anthony Ruggiero

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on 13 Chinese and North Korean organizations Washington accused of helping evade nuclear restrictions against Pyongyang and supporting the country through trade of commodities like coal. more...

21st November 2017 – Quoted by Leandra Bernstein - Sinclair Broadcasting Group

‘Maximum pressure’: Trump sanctions North Korea, China after state visit

Anthony Ruggiero

President Donald Trump ratcheted up his administration's "maximum pressure campaign" this week by re-designating North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism and imposing new economic sanctions on four Chinese shipping companies and over a dozen North Korean entities and shipping vessels. The timing of the penalties is significant, falling on the heels of Trump's visit to Beijing and a high-level Chinese visit to Pyongyang. more...