Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Moyara Ruehsen

Associate Professor

I am passionate about capacity building in the areas of financial regulatory compliance and investigations, and public policies related to illicit markets as well as the macro-economy.  While my research and consulting work can be invigorating, my first love will always be teaching.  I hope to convey my own passion for these subjects to my students and inspire them to go out and explore new career paths they might not have considered when they first began their studies here.

What excites me about being a professor at MIIS is the energy and commitment of my graduate students to making a positive difference in the world.  One of the most gratifying things about being a professor is to hear either through social networking, email, holiday cards, and sometimes the media, what students are doing in their lives and careers with the skill sets they’ve developed at MIIS.

Professor Ruehsen is an award-winning instructor, who has given guest lectures throughout the U.S. and overseas. She received three graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University (MHS, MA, PhD) and then spent a post-doctoral year in 1993 at the University of California, Berkeley.  An economist by training and a certified anti-money laundering specialist (CAMS), and certified financial crime specialist (CFCS), for the past seventeen years she has  been teaching courses on international economics, financial crime, counter-terrorism financing and asset recovery.

Dr. Ruehsen's regional expertise is the Middle East, where she spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Bahrain.  She has also studied at Yarmouk University in Jordan.

Her current research focuses on trade-based money laundering, proliferation financing, and sanctions. Professor Ruehsen has published in a variety of academic journals and professional periodicals. She was a long time contributor to Money Laundering Alert, and also served as a consultant to governments and the private sector.


Money laundering, terrorism financing, corruption, asset recovery,  illegal drug markets, and international macro-economy.

Prof. Ruehsen speaks on euro crisis May 2010


PhD, International Economics and Middle East Studies, Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); MA, International Studies, MHS, International Health, BA, Social Science, Johns Hopkins University; CAMS (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist); CFCS (Certified Financial Crime Specialist)


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,” moneylaundering.com, (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).

Course List

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

DPPG8521 / ITDG8521 - Currncy CapitalFlows&FinCrises      

In this course, students will learn to recognize the predisposing factors of a financial crisis and policy options for optimal financial crisis management by looking at historical case studies. But first, we will look at how the ForEx market works, who are the different players, how are typical transactions structured, different exchange rate regimes (e.g. pegs, crawling bands, free floats, monetary union), factors influencing exchange rate determination, balance of payments, and sovereign debt sustainability. In the second half of the semester, we will parse multiple financial crises from both emerging markets and OECD economies. In addition to readings related to cases, students will also have regular reading assignments of current events. Learning how to discuss and explain monetary topics, and using economic jargon in an appropriate fashion, requires regular practice. It is similar to learning a foreign language, which is why readings should be done in a timely fashion.

Fall 2015 - MIIS

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DPPG8595 - Adv Communication Strategies      

Public speaking is a critical skill in every policy professional’s life. It can mean the difference between coming up with great ideas that wither away for lack of support vs. pitching a proposal that generates excitement among funders, and may even land that sought-after promotion. There are also many types of speaking skills: delivering a prepared speech in front of a live audience, pitching a proposal to a venture capital firm, sitting on stage for an “interview conversation”, televised and radio interviews, organizing and delivering a press conference, working with consecutive and simultaneous interpreters, professional conference presentations, award ceremonies, diplomatic introductions, etc.

This course is designed to introduce you to all of these different skills and/or refine those skills. You will also learn “tricks” of the trade, do’s & don’t’s, how to “connect” with your audience, how to become a better listener (the secret to great speaking!), how to use body language to greatest effect, advanced vocal techniques, handling Q&A (especially in a press conference format), how to properly introduce someone (and be introduced), which is much harder than it seems, and how to wow an audience in both a live and pre-recorded media interview.

In addition to learning these specific skills, there are three other secrets to becoming a great speaker. 1) Practice, 2) Practice, and 3) Practice. After taking this workshop, you are encouraged to seek out as many opportunities as you can to practice what you have learned. All of you have the capacity to become successful public speakers provided you apply yourself to implementing the skills you will learn in this course.

Spring 2016 - MIIS

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ECPR8501 - Economics Preparation-Macro      

This intensive course in introductory macroeconomics places emphasis on the fundamental principles necessary for success in International Economics II (IPSG 8503), Development Economics (IPSG 8551) and is strongly recommended for Money Laundering & AML Policies (IPSG 8581).

In this course, we examine how the overall level of national economic activity is determined, including output, employment, and inflation. We explore the roles of monetary and fiscal policies in stabilizing the economy and promoting growth, with a focus on contemporary policy debates.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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ECPR8550 - Business Fundamentals      

Summer 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG8581 / NPTG9581 - MoneyLaundering & AML Policies      

This course provides an introduction to money laundering and serves as a foundation for any of the related follow-up workshops and courses. Topics covered include the three typical stages of money laundering (placement, layering, integration), how to spot “red flag” indicators, trade-based money laundering techniques (false trade invoicing, use of high-value metals, black market peso exchange), misuse of informal value transfer systems, monitoring politically exposed persons, FIU’s and the Egmont Group, and finally global anti-corruption compliance and enforcement. Capital flows and payment methods will also be scrutinized, so an introductory Macroeconomics course is _strongly_ recommended. The goal of this workshop and the three that follow, is to prepare students to take and pass the Certification for Financial Crime Specialists (CFCS).

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG8582 / NPTG9582 - TerrorFinanceSanctnsCybercrime      

This is the second installment of the CFCS preparation series. Topics covered include sources and methods of terrorism financing, sanctions violations, the roles of the UN and FATF, the USAPatriot Act, 3rd European Union Directive, data security, and detection of cyber financial crime. This workshop is a pre-requisite for the 2-unit Advanced Terrorism Financing course.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG8583 - FraudDetctnTaxEvasnAssetRecvry      

This is the third installment of the CFCS preparation series. Topics covered include understanding and recognizing different types of financial fraud, tax evasion vs. tax avoidance, the use of offshore entities, FATCA, different types of asset recovery tools, and how to trace, forfeit and repatriate assets.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG8584 - FinCrimeInvst,CompliancBstPrct      

This is the fourth and final installment of the CFCS preparation series. Topics covered include laws and investigative techniques for financial crime investigations, how to interpret financial documents, the risk-based approach to compliance, Basel Committee Guidance, Wolfsberg Group recommendations, KYC, KYE, compliance monitoring systems, ethics and best practices.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG8613 - Sem: Illicit Drug Markets      

This course is divided into two segments. The first segment of the course covers illegal drug markets along their entire transaction chain from the growing regions of Latin America and Asia to the end-user markets. Emphasis is placed on the international markets for cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines, and the negative impacts of trafficking and use. The second segment examines the cost-effectiveness and viability of different supply and demand strategies, ranging from crop eradication and border interdiction to treatment and prevention.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IPSS8675 - IPSS Field Deliverables      

During their IPSS internships students complete applied academic deliverables for which they earn six academic credits. The academic credit is not awarded for the internship itself, but for the work that applies students’ academic training to contribute to their host organizations’ mission in area of student’s career interest. The letter grades will be assigned based on the assessment of the following four deliverables:

IPSS Field Project: By the end of their internships students must have completed an ambitious project or other relatively autonomous contribution that presents value for the host organization and builds on students’ strengths and advances his/her skills and knowledge. The field project can take the form of a policy or consultancy report, evaluation, analysis, a website, or other substantive contribution to their host organization that integrates high quality research, analysis, and other skills and subject-matter knowledge. Faculty with relevant expertise and assigned peers will provide every student regular feedback on the major steps of the field project. Student’s regular internship responsibilities ideally should overlap with, but are not limited to the core field assignment. The organizations receiving interns are encouraged to help students identify such assignments prior to their arrival or at the very latest within one month after the start of student’s internship. The organization should provide assistance and guidance in completing this assignment.

Presentation: In the final part of the internship students will present on their field project to their colleagues at their host organizations. The video recording of that presentation will be then reviewed by the MIIS faculty who will invite students for Q&A and also provide additional feedback to students to improve the quality of their final deliverable(s).

Peer feedback: Interns will collaborate with their assigned peers by providing mutual peer feedback on their core field assignments to improve the quality of their work and learn from each other.

Final reflection: Interns will submit a final reflection to IPSS faculty and staff near the end of their internship- summarizing their most important insights and lessons they obtained from the internship experience for their professional and academic development.

Optional: Students are also highly encouraged to blog about their reflections on their internship experiences and comment on each others’ blogs throughout the internship assignment to maximize their learning.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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MBAG8561 - Managerial Economics      

This course will apply the fundamental principles and models of economics to managerial strategy and decision-making. The objective of the course is to enable managers to make more efficient strategic choices, based on empirical evidence from economics of competition, investment, entrepreneurship and innovation. Students will be provided with modern economic tools that can be used to aid and improve organizational and corporate decisions. Applications from Microeconomics will look at how competitive pressures, entrepreneurship and regulatory systems shape corporate decisions on product development, investment, pricing and marketing. Macroeconomic aspects of the course will look at how global and domestic environments of economic growth cycles, debt, equity markets, investment, as well as monetary, fiscal and regulatory policies shape companies choices as what should be produced, where company operations should be located, which markets to enter and how to structure corporate and ESG risk management systems. The stress in the course will be on applied, evidence-based use of theoretical frameworks and case studies, relating to real world applications of economic thinking to boardrooms and C-level executive decisions. Current news flows concerning corporate strategies, decisions and responses to risks will be the core focus of the course analysis. Student’s ability to apply the material presented in print and in lecture will be the primary measure of success in this course.

Fall 2015 - MIIS

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MBAG8625 / DPPG9625 - Trade-Based Financial Crimes      

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. And finally, towards the end of the course we will develop a hypothetical sanctions compliance program using the knowledge from the previous weeks, and designed to develop problem solving skills.

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.

Spring 2016 - MIIS

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MBAG8626 / DPPG9626 - FinancialInvstigatn&Compliance      

Spring 2016 - MIIS

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MBAG8676 / DPPG9676 - FightCorruptn: PEPs,FCPA&UNCAC      

Fighting Corruption: PEPs, FCPA & UNCAC

Corruption is a widespread problem that affects both political and economic development throughout the world. This course will look at how corrupt politicians and corporations seem to steal with relative impunity and what mechanisms are available to address and solve this problem. Specific areas of focus include: understanding what is meant by corruption and politically exposed persons (“PEPs”), understanding how offshore secret financial havens work, becoming familiar with enhanced legislative efforts with extraterritorial reach like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Bribery Act, understanding efforts that are underway to recover and return stolen assets, becoming familiar with state-sponsored efforts to address petty corruption, and understanding how organizations can protect themselves from running afoul of new laws designed to prevent corruption.

By the end of the course students will be able confidently claim that they understand compliance with the FCPA and the UK Bribery Act, the asset recovery process (Chapter V of the UN Convention against Corruption), and the risks of working with politically-exposed persons (PEPs).

Fall 2015 - MIIS

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