A federal multistate suit against Standard & Poor’s over allegations it defrauded investors in mortgage-related securities is unlikely to be resolved before going to trial, according to a source with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
"The states would probably settle for a deal, split a billion or two, and ask that S&P never do it again," the source said. "But the feds are driving this and they want an admission of guilt more than the fines."
The complaint alleges that S&P allowed its analysis to be influenced by its desire to earn lucrative fees from its securities-issuing clients.
A statement from Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office said the alleged misconduct became particularly acute between 2004 and 2007, and continued until as recently as 2011. For example, the attorney general contends that S&P altered its rating methodologies in order to win business, thereby making false or misleading public representations about its own independence and the reliability of its credit ratings.
S&P said in a statement that the the Department of Justice and some states have filed meritless civil lawsuits against the company, challenging some of "our 2007 CDO ratings and the underlying RMBS models. Claims that we deliberately kept ratings high when we knew they should be lower are simply not true. We will vigorously defend S&P against these unwarranted claims."