Innovation in semantic representation of Legal Entity Identifier


Following the 2008 financial crisis, the importance and benefit of a universal Legal Entity Identifier (LEI*) became clear. Regulators worldwide acknowledged their inability to identify parties to transactions across markets, products, and regions. This hindered the ability to evaluate systemic and emerging risk, to identify trends, and to take corrective steps. Recognizing this gap, authorities, working with the private sector, have developed the framework of a Global LEI System (GLEIS) that will, through the issuance of unique LEIs, unambiguously identify entities engaged in financial transactions.

In 2011, the Group of Twenty (G20) called on the Financial Stability Board (FSB) to provide recommendations for a global Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) and a supporting governance structure. This led to the development of the Global LEI System which, through the issuance of LEIs, now provides unique identification of legal entities participating in financial transactions across the globe.

Established in June 2014, the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) is a not-for-profit organization created to support the implementation and use of the LEI. GLEIF services ensure the operational integrity of the Global LEI System.

New approach to semantic representation of Legal Entity Identifier

The Common Data File Format is a standard by which a global Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) and legal entity reference data are expressed in XML files defined by XML schema. We propose a concrete RDF/OWL specification of LEI data named General Legal Entity Identifier Ontology (GLEIO) that is not only compliant with Common Data File Format but also allows for representation of changes of LEI and related LEI reference data over time.

We focus on benefits that can be gained by using semantic representation. Among them are: clear semantics of the LEI data, global persistent identification of the entities allowing for dereferencing URIs and retrieving information about the entities, flexibility of the representation allowing for easy extensibility (e.g., in the scope of Linked Open Data environment), possibility of using the content negotiation mechanism and last but not least, easy accessing and sharing current and historical LEI data by SPARQL endpoint.

MakoLab LEI resolver

GLEIO has been used to create a web application allowing for storing and displaying information about LEI. It is compliant with Linked Data principles, i.e.:

  • All entities in GLEIO are uniquely identified by HTTP URIs.
  • By using entities' URIs browsers and other applications can retrieve information about these entities (such retrieving is known as dereferencing URIs).
  • GLEIO entities are described by natural language annotations describing the meaning as well as by formal axioms constraining the meaning and guaranteeing data coherency and inconsistency.
  • Content negotiation allows to retrieve data adequate to the query. Human agents receive a website, artificial agents get RDF/OWL response.
  • GLEIO can be easily linked with other resources. At that moment some of the classes and properties are linked with FIBO.
  • SPARQL endpoint allows for querying the global LEI data in desired way. External application may take advantage of the endpoint and create their own applications reusing stored by us data. So query LEI data or to track changes one does not have to go through many heavy XML files and compare “strings”. It is enough to know the address of the endpoint and formulate a proper query.

Get acquainted with the "OWL Doc publication of GLEIO

* LEI - The Legal Entity Identifier,  a unique 20-character alphanumeric code based on the ISO 17442 standard developed by the International Organization of Standardization, which is assigned to legal entities that are counterparties to financial transactions.

The full GLEIO whitepaper is available here
Download and see the Axioms of General Legal Entity Identifier Ontology
Download the Class Taxonomy Picture

If you wish to learn more, try the LEI application or contact us at

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