Since the beginning of January, the EU’s new MiFID II rules have been ensuring greater transparency in ﬁnancial markets. One of the new regulation’s most important aspects is the Legal Entity Identiﬁer (LEI) requirement. This globally standardized ﬁnancial identiﬁcation number was to be mandatory for reportable ﬁnancial transactions at the beginning of 2018. However, the oﬃcial statement by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) which was released just before Christmas confused many legal entities. In particular, the European market oversight entity seemingly granted all participants in the ﬁnancial market a 6 month application grace period. But what exactly does this extension entail and what does that mean for individual legal entities?
The LEI Deadline Extension in Practice
ESMA’s statement may mistakenly give the impression that reportable transactions are possible up until the middle of the year 2018 without an LEI - but the truth is not quite that straightforward. Banks are in fact allowed to carry out reportable transactions without LEI. However, they must ﬁrst check the principal LEI eligibility of the ﬁnancial market participant - and then apply for an identiﬁcation code on their behalf. The deadline extension is, for that reason, simply a temporary solution.
The LEI deadline extension is simply a temporary solution. Pic: Loic Djim
In concrete terms, this interim solution means that banks need the same documentation from their clients as LEI contracting entities – and a power of attorney. Far from simplifying the procedure for ﬁnancial market participants, it rather produces more work.
Why was this temporary solution necessary in the ﬁrst place? At the end of last year, as the January 3, 2018 deadline quickly approached, the number of LEI applications rose rapidly worldwide – an inﬂux that certain contracting authorities, such as the London Stock Exchange, warned would no longer make timely processing of applications possible. In turn, ESMA responded.
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Despite nearly 900,000 LEIs being issued in the meantime, in our view, there is still insuﬃcient coverage. LEI obligations for reportable transactions aren’t only applicable to companies, but are also mandatory for investment funds, foundations, insurance companies as well as companies dictated by civil law. Similarly, all clubs that are active on capital markets need a ﬁnancial identiﬁcation number – even if very small, as capital markets transactions have no de minimis limit. A such, countless legal entities exist that have yet to be assigned an LEI.
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For these reasons, I strongly advise all legal entities that do not yet have an LEI to act quickly and apply. A failure to do so could lead to the trap many fell into last December and poses the risk to ﬁnancial market participants of being without an LEI. It is unlikely that regulators will be lenient to those without LEIs, given the long lead time. Our offer: our EQS LEI Manager assigns your LEI within 24 hours - even when you submit a large number of applications.