Moyara Reuhsen Headshot
McCone Building M213
(831) 647-4145

Professor Moyara Ruehsen oversees the Financial Crime Management program, which offers a specialization for master’s degree candidates as well as a stand-alone certificate for mid-career professionals. She has published articles and book chapters on a variety of topics related to threat finance and is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist and a Certified Financial Crime Specialist. Professor Ruehsen teaches financial crime-related courses on a variety of topics including money laundering, trade-based financial crime, corruption, proliferation financing, terrorist financing and cyber-enabled financial crime.

Before coming to MIIS, Professor Ruehsen received three graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University, and spent a post-doc year at the University of California, Berkeley, to study international organized crime.Her regional areas of interest include South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, where she spent a year as a Fulbright scholar.

Professor Ruehsen also consults for the U.S. government, multilateral organizations and the private sector.She served for several years on the Editorial Advisory Board of Money Laundering Alert, and the Middle East Task Force of ACAMS (Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists).

Courses Taught

Course Description

Global Financial Crime & Prevention
In this course we will examine the many techniques that criminals use to launder money, including traditional money laundering schemes, trade-based laundering techniques, cryptocurrencies, and shell companies. In the second half we look at how to screen for and investigate crimes, including corruption, sanctions evasion, terrorism financing, proliferation financing, etc., and what multilateral organizations are doing to promote best practices. We will examine a lot of case studies in this course. Students will map out a financial crime scheme, learn how to evaluate geographic and customer risk, and write up a report for law enforcement with actionable intelligence.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022, Spring 2023

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Course Description

This online workshop explores several areas of the professional financial crime fighting field, including law-enforcement investigations and prosecution strategies, government policy implementation and enforcement, investigations and compliance management at traditional financial institutions and fintech firms, public – private partnerships to address crypto crime, and multilateral agency efforts. All of these stakeholders have different approaches to investigations and different perspectives about compliance. We will also look at several sanctions regimes from the initial policy design to implementation, enforcement and compliance.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only

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Course Description

This course begins with an introduction to financial crime, beginning with traditional money laundering schemes, and then delves more deeply into financial crimes related to trade and investment, such as false trade invoicing, the black market “peso” exchange, the use of high value metals, and sanctions circumvention. Prevailing* laws, regulations and best practices will be reviewed. Students will look at a few case studies and learn how to spot “red flag” indicators, and conduct a simulation in class. This will require critical thinking. Students will also complete a take-home exercise involving visual presentation skills requiring the ability to convey a complex crime schematically.

This course is designed for students who hope to become financial crime specialists, or merely gain fundamental knowledge of financial crime risks and regulations. This expertise is useful for careers in public or private sector compliance, investigative analysis, trade finance, and security/intelligence.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term

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Course Description

Financial Crime Investigations & Compliance Management

This course is a follow-on to NPTG 8621: Introduction to Money Laundering and Trade-Based Financial Crime. It is designed for students who wish to pursue a career related to financial crime detection and prevention, whether in the government sector, private sector or multilateral agency.

The first part of the course covers all the elements of shaping an institution's financial crime compliance program, including AML, FCPA, OFAC and FATCA compliance. Students will develop their own risk scoring methodology for geographic risk and customer risk. We will also look at AML regulations and enforcement in other countries around the world.

Students will examine at what a number of multilateral organizations are doing like the Basel Committee Guidance, Wolfsberg Group recommendations, FATF blacklists and FATF mutual evaluations.

Many case studies will also be examined – both cases of banks behaving badly, as well as international criminal investigations – shedding light on how financial crimes are brought to light and how law enforcement can best investigate and prosecute.

Finally, any well-structured compliance program also has a system for escalating alerts for further investigation and reporting. In this class, students will review how to find and assess sources of evidence, spot red flags, and identify beneficial owners. Financial crime investigators, whether they be in the private sector or public sector, must master not only research skills, but also analytical and writing skills. For the final assignment, students will learn how to write up a suspicious transaction report with actionable intelligence.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022 - MIIS, MIIS Second Half of Term

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Course Description

Terms Taught

Fall 2022 - MIIS

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Course Description

Behind nearly every international crime involving money lies a money laundering scheme. In this course we look at how corrupt dictators, terrorists, drug traffickers, sanctions evaders, and North Korean cyber hackers, among others, hide and launder their ill-gotten gains. We will identify red flags of suspicious behavior and explore traditional money laundering techniques, trade-based laundering techniques, black market peso exchange, Chinese mirror trades, the use of virtual assets, shell companies, etc. There are no prerequisites for this course. What makes for a great investigator is curiosity, great research/analytical/writing skills, and broad knowledge about the world.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023 - MIIS

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Course Description

Student must obtain a faculty advisor, complete a Directed Study proposal form, obtain signatures, and submit to the Associate Dean of Academic Operations for approval.

Terms Taught

Fall 2023 - MIIS

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Areas of Interest

  • Money Laundering
  • Terrorism Financing
  • Proliferation Financing
  • Corruption, PEP Monitoring
  • Cyber-enabled Financial Crime
  • Sanctions Compliance
  • BSA/AML Compliance


Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Washington, D.C.  Doctoral exams in both International Economics and Middle East Studies.
  • MA, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), JHU, Washington, D.C.
  • MHS, School of Public Health, JHU, Baltimore, Maryland. Biostatistics and International Health. Delta Omega National Honor Society.
  • BA, School of Arts and Sciences, JHU, Baltimore, Maryland. Phi Beta Kappa and General Honors.

Professor Ruehsen has been teaching at the Institute since 1994.


  • Moyara Ruehsen, “Cyber-Enabled Financial Crime and Money Laundering,” Guest Blog for Money Laundering Watch, 28 July 2020.

  • Vanity Fair True Crime Series: Money Laundering.

  • Moyara Ruehsen, Correspondence (Commentary on Counter-Proliferation Financing), Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 25 No.3/4, December 2018.

  • Moyara Ruehsen, “The Ongoing Cyberwarfare Between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” KCL Dialogue (a quarterly journal of King’s College London), October 2016.

  • Moyara Ruehsen, “Opinion: The Paris Attacks Have Forced a European Rethink on Terror Finance,” Newsweek (26 January 2016).

  • Moyara Ruehsen and Leonard Spector, “Following the Proliferation Money,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol 71 (5), 2015.

  • “Breaking the Ice In Baghdad,” Toastmaster Magazine, September 2014.

  • Freeman, Michael and Moyara Ruehsen, “Terrorism Financing Methods: An Overview,” Perspectives on Terrorism Volume 7, Issue 4, August 2013.

  • “PKK” in Michael Freeman’s Financing Terrorism: Case Studies, Ashgate Press, 2012.

  • “Afghanistan’s Drug War - The Farmers Aren’t the Enemy,” LA Times, 2 November 2009.

  • “Arab Government Responses to the Threat of Terrorist Financing,” Chapter in J. Giraldo and H. Trinkunas, Terrorism Financing and State Responses in Comparative Perspective, Stanford University Press, Fall 2007.

  • “Choosing an Appropriate Palestinian Monetary Regime,” Research in Middle East Economics Volume 6, 2005, pp. 183-199.

  • “Diamonds Are a Terrorist’s Best Friend,” (September 2004).

  • “Little Noticed UN Report Cites Alleged Saudi Terrorist Financing,” Money Laundering Alert, (October 2003).

  • “Dirty Laundering: Financing Latin America’s Drug Trade,” (review essay) in Harvard International Review, (Winter 2003).

  • “The Fallacy of Sanctions,” Middle East Insight (March-April 2002).

  • “Tracing al-Qaeda’s Money,” Middle East Insight (January-February 2002).

  • “Suspected UAE Links to Terrorist Funds Spark Anti-Laundering Efforts,” Money Laundering Alert (December 2001).

  • “Arab Naming Customs Complicate Screening for Suspected Terrorists,” Money Laundering Alert (December 2001).

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