SEC Charges Rating Agency Morningstar with Failures of Disclosure and Internal Controls in CMBS Rating Model Adjustments

Orrick - Finance 20/20
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Orrick - Finance 20/20

On February 16, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil action in federal district court in the Southern District of New York against the former credit ratings agency, Morningstar Credit Ratings LLC, regarding alleged failure to disclose and maintaining internal control provisions in violation of federal securities law in its CMBS ratings practice. The complaint alleges that, in 30 transactions rated by Morningstar between 2015 and 2016, Morningstar failed to disclose that its rating criteria permitted analysts to adjust property cash flow and valuation stresses on a “loan-specific basis,” which resulted in lower expected losses on CMBS classes and the assignment of credit ratings and failed to adequately maintain a system of internal controls to ensure adherence to its ratings criteria. The complaint alleges violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against Morningstar and seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement and civil penalties. Release.

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