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.

Pyongyang’s Playbook

5th September 2017 – The Weekly Standard

Pyongyang’s Playbook

Anthony Ruggiero

The crisis between the United States and North Korea shows no signs of abating. Indeed, Pyongyang escalated its provocations last week, firing a missile over Japan on August 29. Critics of the president cite his brash approach to Pyongyang as a factor behind North Korea’s belligerency. Some also link Trump’s tough talk about the Iran nuclear deal. Why, they ask, would North Korea want to cooperate with a White House that insists on revisiting a nuclear deal the United States struck with Iran just two years ago? more...

Analysis & Commentary

15th September 2017 – Quoted by Lee Smith - The Weekly Standard

The Nuclear Deal Is Only Half of It

Mark Dubowitz

The Trump White House has yet to roll out its much-anticipated, comprehensive, government-wide Iran policy review, but administration principals have met over the last few weeks to iron out details regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. On September 14, as expected, Trump renewed the waiver that provides sanctions relief to Iran under the JCPOA’s terms, while the Treasury Department at the same time imposed new sanctions targeting supporters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). more...

14th September 2017 – Quoted by Brian Padden - VOA News

Thriving Black Market Could Mitigate North Korea Sanctions Impact

Anthony Ruggiero

Illicit evasion and a thriving black market continue to mitigate the impact of sanctions intended to deprive North Korea of billions of dollars in revenue and needed components for its nuclear program. more...

14th September 2017 – Quoted by Mohamed Zain - Egypt Today

Qatar crisis hits 100 days, Doha policies remain unchanged

Jonathan Schanzer

One hundred days have passed since countries decided to take a step against the tiny emirate of Qatar and its policies that financed and backed terrorism, contributed in destabilizing the region, drove wedges between neighboring countries and spread chaos to achieve its own schemes and agendas. more...

14th September 2017 – Quoted by Dave Clark - Agence France Presse

US retains Iran deal sanctions relief—for now

Mark Dubowitz

The United States agreed Thursday to continue for now to exempt Iran from nuclear-related sanctions but slapped new measures on targets accused of cyber attacks or destabilizing the region. more...