DOJ Brings Civil Fraud Action Against S&P

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On February 4, the Department of Justice filed a complaint in the Central District of California against two Standard & Poor’s entities in connection with credit ratings S&P provided for certain RMBS and CDOs. The government asserts claims under the 1989 Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), which allows the government to bring civil claims for mail fraud, wire fraud, and “financial institution fraud” for alleged frauds perpetrated against federally insured financial institutions. The complaint alleges that from September 2004 through October 2007, S&P knowingly issued inflated ratings of non-prime RMBS and CDOs, delayed downgrading those products, and knowingly used faulty ratings methodology. The government seeks statutory civil penalties totaling over $5 billion. Complaint.


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