The global financial crisis highlighted significant obstacles to identifying and tracing financial transactions across the international financial system. The identification of legal entities with a unique, global identifier is a key component for improving financial data, for instance to support a more accurate and timely aggregation of data on the same entity from different sources, especially on a cross-border basis.  The development of the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) by the FSB contributes to and facilitates many financial stability objectives, including improved risk management in firms, better assessment of micro and macroprudential risks, facilitation of orderly resolution, and enabling higher quality and accuracy of financial data overall..

In 2012, responding to a request from the G20, the FSB published, A Global Legal Entity Identifier for Financial Markets, which set out 15 global LEI system High Level Principles and 35 recommendations for the development of a unique identification system for parties to financial transactions. The FSB recommendations were endorsed by the G20 at the Los Cabos Summit in June 2012.

The FSB recommended a three-tier structure for the global LEI system (GLEIS):

  • Regulatory Oversight Committee (ROC). The ROC has the ultimate responsibility for the governance of the global LEI system.

  • Global LEI Foundation (GLEIF) operating the Central Operating Unit (COU). The Global LEI Foundation operating the Central Operating Unit is the pivotal operational arm of the global LEI system and has responsibility for delivering high quality operations.

  • Local Operating Units (LOU). Local Operating Units provide the primary interface for entities wishing to register for an LEI. They are local implementers of the global system.

In January 2013 the LEI Regulatory Oversight Committee (ROC) took over the responsibility for development and implementation of the Global LEI System. The FSB continues to promote LEI uses to support regulatory actions and data quality. The FSB is also providing secretariat support to the LEI ROC.

Further information on the LEI ROC can be found at leiroc.org.

The FSB established the GLEIF as a non-for-profit foundation in 2014 (see: www.gleif.org).

The Global LEI System has issued over one million LEI as of January 2018. Following recommendations by the FSB in its July 2012 report, the Global LEI System started collecting in 2017 data on the ultimate and direct parents of legal entities, which are essential to achieve risk aggregation.