The Legal Entity Identifiers (“LEI”) is a method to identify legal entities that engage in financial transactions. Let’s discuss LEI in more detail.
LEI: Background Information
The establishment of LEI was driven by the recognition by regulators around the world that there is a complete lack of transparency with respect to identifying parties to international transactions. Each business entity is registered at the national level, but another country’s authorities would have great difficulty identifying this entity in an international transaction, including whether this entity has taken consistent tax positions in both countries.
Establishment of LEI; Additional Initiatives
Hence, on the initiative of the largest twenty economies of the world (“G-20“), the Financial Stability Board (“FSB”) developed the framework of Global LEI System (“GLEIS”). FSB was created in 2009 in the aftermath of the financial crisis (it replaced the Financial Stability Forum or “FSF”).
Additionally, in January of 2013, a LEI Regulatory Oversight Committee (“ROC”) was created. ROC is a group of over 70 public authorities from member-countries and additional observers from more than 50 countries. The job of the ROC is coordination and oversight of the worldwide LEI framework.
On May 9, 2017, the ROC announced that it has launched data collection on parent entities in the Global Legal Entity Identifiers System – this is the so-called “relationship data”. The member countries (especially in the European Union (“EU”)) will use this data in a number of regulatory initiatives. For example, as of 2018, the EU uses the relationship data for the purposes of commodity derivative reporting.
How LEI Works
The LEI is a 20-character, alpha-numeric code, to uniquely identify legally distinct entities that engage in financial transactions. The code incorporates the following information:
1.the official name of the legal entity as recorded in the official registers;
2.the registered address of that legal entity;
3.the country of formation;
4.codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions;
5.the date of the first Legal Entity Identifier assignment; the date of last update of the information; and the date of expiration, if applicable.
Here is how the numbering system works:
•Characters 1–4: A four-character prefix allocated uniquely to each LOU.
•Characters 5–6: Two reserved characters set to zero.
•Characters 7–18: Entity—specific part of the code generated and assigned by LOUs according to transparent, sound, and robust allocation policies.
•Characters 19–20: Two check digits as described in the ISO 17442 standard.
Jurisdictions With Rules Referring to LEI
Over 40 jurisdictions have rules that refer to Legal Entity Identifiers: Argentina, Australia, Canada, 31 members of the European Union and European Economic Area, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States. IGOs such as Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and International Organization of Securities Commissions also use Legal Entity Identifiers.
Could LEI Be Used for CRS and FATCA Purposes?
Sherayzen Law Office, like many other commentators, believes that there is a possibility that the LEI would be a better alternative than Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) for CRS and FATCA purposes. First of all, it would be more efficient to have one identification system across all compliance terrains. Second, Legal Entity Identifiers are actually more popular than GIINs. As of December 7, 2017, there were 830,477 LEIs issued versus a mere less than 300,000 GIINs.