Robert McBrien

CEFP Board of Advisors


J.R. (Bob) McBrien serves on the Board of Advisors of the Center on Economic and Financial Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Mr. McBrien is an authority in the employment of U.S. economic sanctions programs and had a seminal role in the conception, design, and development of the Specially Designated Nationals list and targeted sanctions against non-state foreign adversaries. His initiatives have been a key factor in the development of economic sanctions as a major instrument of national security policy.

He is a veteran of development, coordination and implementation of inter-disciplinary and collaborative policies and programs affecting U.S. national security. He has broad experience with the national security and defense, foreign policy, intelligence, law enforcement, and legal communities. He was a participant in the U.S. counter-terrorism program from its 1972 inception to his retirement and in counter-narcotics programs since 1985.

He retired as a Career SES in December 2011 after 42 years of government service. At the time of his retirement, he was the Associate Director for Global Targeting in the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions organization. He currently is a contractor at the Defense Department, advising on sanctions, illicit finance, and countering threat networks.

Most of his career, including the 25 years with OFAC, was with the U.S. Treasury Department where he handled a broad spectrum of cross-cutting national security, intelligence, and law enforcement issues.

His career in Washington began as an attorney in the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. In addition to conducting grand jury investigations, including the first federal grand jury investigation of Asian organized crime groups in Hawaii, he served as the executive secretary for the Attorney General’s National Council on Organized Crime. His retirement occurred as his career made a full circle from his 1970s Justice Department work on organized crime to his role in the development of President Obama’s National Strategy on Transnational Organized Crime and the Executive order against transnational criminal organizations.

Full Bio