Analysis & Commentary - Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance

Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance Media Articles

18th May 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Banker Sentenced for Iran Sanctions-Busting Scheme

Aykan Erdemir

A Manhattan court Wednesday sentenced Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy general manager of Turkey’s second-largest public lender, Halkbank, to 32 months in prison for his role in a multi-billion dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. more...

16th May 2018 – The National Interest

Return of the Sanctions: Banks Should Steer Clear of the Central Bank of Iran

Annie Fixler , Behnam Ben Taleblu

The U.S. Treasury Department has set its crosshairs on two more Iranian illicit finance schemes. Late last week, Washington designated a network spanning Iran and the United Arab Emirates that had “procured and transferred millions in U.S. dollar-denominated bulk cash” for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF), according to the Treasury Department’s press statement. more...

28th April 2018 – CoinDesk

The Crypto Community Must Use the Blockchain to Self-Police

Yaya J. Fanusie

Self-policing illicit activity on the blockchain may soon be a necessity for the cryptocurrency space. The everyday cryptocurrency enthusiast in the future is likely to spend time identifying illicit wallets and transactions to avoid. The U.S. Treasury Department has made that inevitable. more...

19th April 2018 – FDD's CSIF Policy Brief

U.S., UK Act to Block Chinese Technology Threat

Annie Fixler , Trevor Logan

This week, the U.S. and UK governments took steps to combat key national security threats posed by two Chinese telecommunications companies. On Monday, the U.S. Commerce Department banned all U.S. sales to ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company that violated export controls. more...

5th April 2018 – FDD's CSIF Research Memo

Pushing Back on Putin: Gaining Leverage with Cheaper Oil and Gas

Pasi Eronen, Boris Zilberman

For three years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has seemed immune to the dual stresses of increasingly tighter economic sanctions and stubbornly low oil prices. He has maintained covert pincers on Ukraine sovereignty, captured a diplomatic and military foothold in Syria, and attacked the democratic systems of the U.S. and Europe. In the wake of Putin’s March 18 election to another six-year term, extending his rule through at least 2024, oil offers him the opportunity for even bolder action to come. more...

26th March 2018 – FDD's CSIF Policy Brief

Iran’s Cyber Capabilities Expanded throughout Nuclear Talks

Annie Fixler , Behnam Ben Taleblu

The U.S. Treasury and Justice Departments took combined action Friday to designate and indict the Iranian firm Mabna Institute, as well as nine of its contractors responsible for “a coordinated campaign of cyber intrusions.” Between 2013 and 2017, these entities hacked hundreds of universities, private companies, and government agencies in the U.S. and around the world. The four-year campaign to steal billions of dollars’ worth of intellectual property attests to Iran’s evolving cyber capabilities. more...

25th March 2018 – CoinDesk

Crypto Investors Should Stay Away from Venezuela’s Petro

Yaya J. Fanusie, Michaela Frai

Venezuela has reportedly made the first state-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, available to the public. Crypto investors should just say no. more...

22nd March 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

United Nations Report Highlights North Korea Sanctions Violations

Mathew Ha

Last week, the UN Panel of Experts released its latest report on sanctions violations by North Korea and its enablers. The contents of the report indicate that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign is working, yet there remains much to be done to ensure that Western pressure on North Korea is truly at a maximum. more...

21st March 2018 – Interviewed by Mercy A. Kuo - The Diplomat

Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare: Assessing US Strategy

Samantha F. Ravich

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. Samantha Ravich – Principal Investigator on two projects at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare Project and the Transformative Cyber Innovation Lab, and author of Marketization and Democracy: East Asian Experiences – is the 132nd in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.” more...

23rd February 2018 – FDD's Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance Policy Brief

To Evade U.S. Sanctions, Venezuela Launches the World’s First National Cryptocurrency

Yaya J. Fanusie, Michaela Frai

This week, the Venezuelan government started selling the “petro,” the world’s first “national cryptocurrency.” The petro’s release is part of the Maduro regime’s strategy to combat the “financial blockade” of U.S. sanctions, yet the petro is likely to find itself just as vulnerable as other financial instruments to U.S. sanctions and market-based disincentives. more...

12th January 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

U.S. Designates Iranian Chief Justice

Annie Fixler , Behnam Ben Taleblu

The U.S. Treasury Department designated Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani today under non-nuclear authorities for his role in the human rights violations in Iran. As Iran’s chief justice and head of the judicial branch since August 2009, Larijani has for nearly a decade overseen the Islamic Republic’s judicial apparatus, a central component of the regime’s repression of the Iranian people. more...

12th January 2018 – FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance Research Memo

Bitcoin Laundering: An Analysis of Illicit Flows into Digital Currency Services

Yaya J. Fanusie

Bitcoin gambling sites, “mixers” and European Bitcoin exchange may be the destinations of choice for criminals looking to launder bitcoins, according to a study issued today by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF) and cryptocurrency analytics firm Elliptic. more...

22nd December 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

North Korean Hackers Target Cryptocurrency Exchange as Part of Larger Economic Warfare Strategy

Mathew Ha, Trevor Logan

Yapizon, which operates the South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Youbit, announced on Tuesday that it would suspend all trading activity and file for bankruptcy following a North Korean cyber attack. Youbit acknowledged that the breach resulted in the theft of 17 percent of the exchange’s total digital assets, consisting of 7.6 billion won, or $7 million worth of cryptocurrencies. more...

21st December 2017 – The Cipher Brief

Terrorist Networks Eye Bitcoin as Cryptocurrency’s Price Rises

Yaya J. Fanusie

Although paper money remains the preference of terrorist organizations, some are setting their sights on cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin transactions move directly between users without any government or banking intermediary and bring the potential for greater financial efficiency and wider financial inclusion. more...

18th December 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

House Bill Elevates Civilian Cybersecurity Agency

Annie Fixler , Trevor Logan

The House passed the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency Act last week in order to establish a primary agency responsible for leading the coordination of cyber security information-sharing efforts between federal, non-federal, and private sector stakeholders. more...

1st December 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

U.S. Calls for Oil Ban and Complete Diplomatic Isolation of North Korea

Anthony Ruggiero, Mathew Ha

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting Wednesday following North Korea’s third intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the thirteenth meeting of the Security Council this year. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called for the body to isolate Pyongyang and increase pressure on it, by banning the sale of oil to North Korea and severing all diplomatic ties. more...

29th November 2017 – Fox News

It’s time to ramp up the pressure on North Korea and China after latest missile test

Anthony Ruggiero

North Korea’s third successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday should prompt President Trump to quicken the pace of his policy of putting “maximum pressure” on the North to give up its nuclear weapons. more...

26th November 2017 – The Hill

Hezbollah drug trafficking should spur Trump to appoint DEA head

Emanuele Ottolenghi

The new DEA administrator should have a clear vision for addressing the international dimension of the drug crisis, as well as the wreckage at home. In particular, the president should choose a DEA chief who not only understands the complex and global nature of drug cartels but is also cognizant of the growing convergence between transnational organized crime and terrorist groups like Hezbollah. more...

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

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...

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...

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