awards

Hon. Steven T. Mnuchin
Thank you, Steve, for that kind introduction, and it’s good to be here with you this evening. The last time I was here was 2009. I was the dinner chairman that year, and Dr. Kissinger spoke. It is great to see you again, and I am pleased to return as this year’s speaker to address this distinguished audience. I’d like to begin by recognizing Rabbi Arthur Schneier who I have known for over 40 years. I greatly admire your work at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and your focus on religious freedom. Thank you very much.

I would also like to congratulate the honorees this evening, Christine Lagarde and Johann Peter Rupert.

As Treasury Secretary, I’ve had the opportunity to work very closely with Christine. I have seen firsthand your leadership at the IMF and your efforts to promote global economic growth and stability. Christine, thank you for your work.

I would also like to congratulate Johann. I have known him for over 15 years. His success in business has led to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs, making a difference in the lives of countless families. I commend you for your philanthropic endeavors, well including your work over the years with President Nelson Mandela and others to use sports for positive social change especially for the benefit of underprivileged children.

The Appeal of Conscience Foundation promotes religious liberty and peace. Its message is especially important at the time when rogue nations, terrorists and other threats continue to pose challenges to the United States and around the world. I commend the Foundation for bringing together heads of state, members of diplomat corps, clergy, business and civic leaders to discuss ways to ensure a more peaceful and secure world.

This week I have been with President Trump at the UN General Assembly and participated with him in meetings with other world leaders where he discussed important economic and security issues. At Treasury, some of our most important core responsibilities involve using economic tools, sanctions to combat terrorist financing, corruption, persecution and other malign and destabilizing activities.

Next month I will be taking my third trip to the Middle East to highlight our efforts using economic tools to enhance security and foster stability in the region. My first stop will be to visit the State of Israel. I look forward to reaffirming the strong relationship between our two countries and the work we do together to fight against terrorism.

Earlier this year I had the honor of being part of a delegation that opened the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

President Trump was the first one to fulfill the bipartisan Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which instructed us to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

I will also visit Saudi Arabia where the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, known as the TFTC which we co-chair with them, is located. We have partnered with six countries, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE to form the center in order to share intelligence and coordinate actions to disrupt the financing of terror. Since we created the TFTC last year, it has implemented two important rounds of multilateral designations. Our financial tools are making an impact in the fight to eradicate ISIS and other terrorist groups that are fomenting violence.

In addition to the tranches of TFTC multilateral designations, Treasury prioritizes targeting Hezbollah and its supporters including leadership, operatives, facilitators, financiers, investors in key global procurement networks. Treasury has designated more than 130 Hezbollah- related persons pursuant to our counterterrorism authorities. In 2018 alone, we have conducted 26 Hezbollah-related designations, more than any other year. We have more also planned. Treasury is also focused on stopping ISIS global fundraising activities and achieving the enduring defeat of the group through a variety of tools including more designations.

On my trip to the Middle East, I will also visit Jordan, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait. While visiting with my counterparts, I will reiterate the message on behalf of President Trump that the United States will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Not now, not in ten years, not ever.
We will also continue to target those who support the Iranian regime’s efforts to acquire ballistic missiles, silence opposing voices and threaten Israel and other allies. Our policy is clear. Those who choose to conduct business with violent organizations including the leading state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, will not be permitted to access the world’s financial system.

While our efforts to stem violence in the Middle East remain central to our mission of fostering security and stability, we are also focused on combating corruption, one of the underlying causes of violence in key locations around the world. Along with the EU and others, we are putting unprecedented pressure on the Maduro regime in Venezuela, implementing sanctions against senior government officials. Venezuelan officials have looted their country’s resources, everything from natural resources such as oil to consumer products intended to eliminate poverty such as dry milk.

The result is that the Venezuelans people are suffering through a humanitarian crisis while their leaders amass ill-gotten gains. We will continue to target members of this regime until the people of Venezuela once again have a say in their government and access to their country’s precious resources.

Additionally, we will continue to go after those affiliated with the Assad regime which continues to target innocent civilians. Just this month Treasury designated nine individuals and entities for facilitating petroleum trade between Assad’s government and ISIS. In addition to high-profile sanction programs directed at rogue regimes, Treasury and the State Department also implement the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. This law is named for Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant who sought to expose corruption in the Russian government. He was arrested, tortured and killed in custody.

Last year President Trump signed an executive order building on that law to give Treasury the authority to use its financial tools and authorities to combat corruption and human rights abusers around the globe. Under this program, we have sanctioned dozens of individuals and entities. We designated a corrupt international businessman and billionaire who amassed hundreds of millions of dollars through opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He used his close relationship with President Kabila to act as a middleman for mining asset sales in the DRC, requiring some multinational companies to go through to do business with the Congolese state. His scheme resulted in over a billion dollars in lost revenue to the people with untold millions going to himself and corrupt officials.

In protecting human rights, the United States rightly uses these same authorities to target those who threaten religious freedom. Treasury has designated Burmese military commanders and units for their involvement in brutal acts of violence against ethnic and religious minorities. We also targeted Turkey’s ministers of interior and justice who were responsible for the detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson, one of the many victims of unjust treatment.

These efforts are in addition to the numerous human rights and corruption-related designations Treasury has issued under various authorities. In total since January 2017, Treasury has taken action against more than 460 individuals and entities engaged in activities directly involving human rights abuse or corruption including in connection with Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, Iran and other sanctions programs.

I have described the variety of actions this evening. I did so for an important reason: to clearly illustrate the policy of this administration. We will continue to aggressively implement sanctions against bad actors all around the world. Corruption and human rights abuse take a toll on victims directly affected by such actions. The United States has taken the bold step of declaring that such abuses also threaten the stability of our international economy and political systems.

This administration will continue to impose serious consequences on those who target innocent people and who diminish the ability of Americans and our allies to live in peace and prosperity. It is an honor to be with you this evening. Congratulations again to Christine to Johann, and I commend Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation for promoting the values of freedom and peace. Thank you very much.
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