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.

Iran Concessions Would Erode Anti-Money Laundering Standards

15th December 2016 – FDD Policy Brief

Iran Concessions Would Erode Anti-Money Laundering Standards

Annie Fixler

The 10-year extension of the Iran Sanction Act (ISA) – a 1996 law imposing sanctions on Tehran’s trade, energy, defense, and banking sectors over its nuclear program, ballistic-missile tests, support for terrorism, and other illicit activities – became law overnight. more...

Analysis & Commentary

22nd December 2016 – Quoted by

Buy Gold – Dump Treasuries: A Strategic Geopolitical Move, not a Day Trade

Now is the time to keep your eyes on the monetary endgame. Not the daily mark-to-market in paper gold. This endgame is an all-out attack on the status of the US dollar as the benchmark global reserve currency. more...

16th December 2016 – FDD Press Release

FDD’s CSIF Initiates New Project to Study Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare

Recognizing the significant gap in U.S. strategic thinking about how adversaries may use cyberattacks to disrupt the U.S. economy and threaten its national security, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF) is launching a new project to study how America can protect itself from cyber-enabled economic warfare. more...

15th December 2016 – Quoted by Carol Morello - The Washington Post

Iran sanctions extended, but without Obama’s signature

Mark Dubowitz

Sanctions against Iran were officially extended for another decade Thursday, even though President Obama did not sign the legislation, a symbolic move intended to show the White House’s disapproval of the bill. more...

15th December 2016 – Quoted by Leah McGrath Goodman - Newsweek

Bitcoin is Being Monitored by an Increasingly Wary U.S. Government

Yaya J. Fanusie

On a mountainous stretch along the Orange River between South Africa and Namibia lies a small town called Orania, a homeland founded in the 1990s by white nationalists who introduced their own currency, the ora—probably the only tender in the world created exclusively for whites. more...