Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

US Treasury official overseeing Iran sanctions resigns

Sigal Mandelker will leave the Trump administration where she played an integral part in increasing sanctions on Iran

Former US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker addresses a press roundtable at the U.S. embassy in Bern, Switzerland September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
Former US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker addresses a press roundtable at the U.S. embassy in Bern, Switzerland September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

The US Treasury Department announced on Wednesday that undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Sigal Mandelker is leaving the Trump administration to return to the private sector.

US Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin praised Ms Mandelker's work after she confirmed her departure from the administration she joined in 2017.

“As a result of Sigal’s tireless leadership and strategic vision for TFI, Treasury has played an increasingly central role in national security matters,” Mr Mnuchin said.

“Sigal’s steadfast devotion to mission will be missed, as she is truly a unique talent."

No replacement was announced and experts who followed Ms Mandelker’s sanctions work on Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea expressed slight concern on the implications of her departure.

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, emphasised the technical nature of the job and the challenge of finding someone with Ms Mandelker’s leadership abilities.

“The Treasury’s sanctions shop is not one influenced by politics,” Mr Schanzer, who had worked at the department, told The National.

“It’s a mission-driven outfit that churns out designations regardless of politics but leadership is still important.”

He said the choice for Ms Mandelker's replacement would be important.

Brian O’Toole of the Atlantic Council, a former senior adviser at the Treasury’s office of foreign assets control, said: “This is unfortunate news, especially following the recent departures of other professionals like Fiona Hill [from the White House] and Kurt Volker [from the State Department].”

“For an administration that has struggled to appoint serious foreign policy professionals, Sigal’s loss is a tough blow to hopes for consistent policy implementation.”

“That she oversees the favourite foreign policy tool of this White House makes her loss doubly painful.

“She has demonstrated competence in implementing US policy and cares deeply about the civil servants who work under her – essential qualities that may be tough to replace."

Ms Mandelker, who is the child of Holocaust survivors, has also served in the departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

Updated: October 3, 2019 02:04 AM

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