Elisabeth Lees

Elisabeth is an attorney specialising in regulatory law (financial services) and financial crime.

Elisabeth offers AML and ABC compliance consultancy services to Cayman Islands’ entities. Elisabeth also offers consultancy services in relation to compliance with the FATF standards, particularly advising governments, law enforcement agencies and supervisory bodies. 

Elisabeth is ranked in Chambers Global 2023 for Financial Services Regulatory. See profile here.

Claritas is also ranked as a ‘Firm to Watch’ in Legal 500 2023.

Prior to founding Claritas, Elisabeth served as the National Coordinator to the Anti-Money Laundering Steering Group in the Cayman Islands from 2019 until January 2022, leading the Cayman Islands’ response to its Fourth Round Caribbean Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation Report. Elisabeth advised on both legislative and operational enhancements leading to improvement in all areas.

Following Elisabeth’s endeavours, the Cayman Islands was ultimately rated Compliant or Largely Compliant with all 40 Recommendations and met 61 of its 63 Recommended Actions. In 2022, Elisabeth was awarded a Badge and Certificate of Honour for legal services rendered to the Cayman Islands Government.

Elisabeth has also worked as a Legal Expert in assessing countries against the FATF standards in both Fourth Round Assessments and Technical Compliance Re-ratings and has sat as a member of the Joint Group of the Americas.

Elisabeth was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2002, following which she practised as a criminal barrister in London.

From 2006 Elisabeth then worked as Crown Counsel in the Cayman Islands prosecuting all manner of cases including financial crime and proceeds of crime matters. From 2012, as Senior Crown Counsel (International Cooperation), Elisabeth was responsible for all incoming requests and their execution including search warrants, restraints and the production of evidence from financial institutions as well as outgoing requests. Elisabeth is an experienced advocate and has appeared in all courts in the Cayman Islands. Elisabeth also has significant experience providing training in numerous capacities, including to prosecutors and law enforcement.

Elisabeth’s career highlights include

  • Deputy Chair of the Health Appeals Tribunal.
  • Devising and monitoring action plans for 14 regulatory, law enforcement and other agencies and reporting to the Ministerial Sub-Committee chaired by the Honourable Premier of the Cayman Islands.
  • Representing the Cayman Islands at the Joint Group of Americas, FATF Plenaries and CFATF Plenaries.
  • Leading the Cayman Islands National Risk Assessment and the targeted risk assessments including Terrorist Financing, Legal Persons and the Special Economic Zone.
  • Participating in Working Groups with CFATF and FATF including the Strategic Review of the FATF processes.
  • Played an integral part in establishing the framework for minimum terms for those serving life sentences (Ricketts v R 2019 (2) CILR 666, Ramoon v R 2018 (2) CILR 563, R v Anglin 2018 (1) CILR 85).
  • Helped establish the legal and practical framework for witness anonymity applications, which was successfully used in a murder trial and which approach was both approved and praised by the Court of Appeal (Anglin v R 2018 (2) CILR 409).
  • Participated in establishing the ARIN Carib Asset recovery forum
  • Operationalized and used the first video link for a child witness.

Bar Admissions

  • Cayman Islands, 2022
  • England and Wales, 2002 (non-practising)


  • LLM (Public International Law), Queen Mary, University of London, 2010
  • Bar Vocational Course, College of Law, England, 2002
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Law, College of Law, England, 2001
  • BA (Hons), University of Manchester, (First Class) 2000

Professional Qualifications

  • Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist
  • Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Investment Foundations Certificate
  • Notary Public

Awards and Publications

  • Badge and Certificate of Honour for Legal Services Rendered to the Cayman Islands Government, 2022.
  • University of London Georg Schwarzenberger Prize for Outstanding Achievement in International Public Law, 2010.
  • The Queen Mary, University of London, Principle’s Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement, Ray Goode Prize for achieving the highest mark on the LLM and the LLM Public International Law Prize.
  • Lincoln’s Inn Hardwicke Entrance Award and Lord Haldane Scholarship Award.

Elisabeth is passionate about human rights and international criminal law and has published her work on the Crime of Aggression: ‘Ending Impunity in Relation to the Supreme Crime? The International Criminal Court and the Crime of Aggression’ (2013 (3) European Human Rights Law Review 284).

Speaking Engagements

  • SILO, AML Grey Matters webinars, preparing for the Fifth Round of FATF Mutual Evaluations and the liability of the MLRO, 2023.
  • ACAMS Cayman Islands Symposium, 2022 (Correspondent Banking relationships, moderator)
  • Cayman Islands Institute of Professional Accountants, 2022 (The grey list, consequences and current status)
  • Cayman Islands Compliance Association, 2019 — 2021 (Various)
  • Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association, 2020 (FATF obligations and the legal sector)
  • ACAMS Cayman Islands Symposium, 2021 (The consequences of a FATF Action Plan)
  • Regional Director of Public Prosecutions’ Caribbean conference (increasing FATF effectiveness from the prosecutorial standpoint)
  • Cayman Islands regulated entities webinar, 2020 (prosecuting legal persons)
  • Cayman Islands regulated entities webinar, 2020 (the Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment)
  • CFATF Working Groups and Arin Carib, 2020 (Increasing effectiveness in the Recovery of the Proceeds of Crime)
  • Caribbean Financial Action Task Force Plenary, 20I9 (Terrorist Financing Risk Assessments using the latest FATF Guidance)

Professional Memberships

  • International Bar Association
  • Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers


  • German – fluent
  • French – conversational


Elisabeth Lees
Phone: +1 345 929 0668
Email: elisabeth@claritaslegal.com