New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into three major credit ratings agencies, Reuters reported Feb. 7. The action follows the U.S. Department of Justice’s $5 billion lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s over mortgage bond ratings.
Schneiderman issued a subpoena to Standard & Poor’s last week, Reuters reported. His office also sent formal requests for information to ratings agencies Moody’s and Fitch Ratings.
Schneiderman is looking for information connected to the agencies’ actions in the rating of mortgage-backed securities and whether the companies complied with agreements in 2008 to implement certain reforms.
The 2008 agreements, signed by the three firms, settled a previous inquiry by former New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo into the firms’ ratings of residential mortgage-backed securities prior to the financial crisis, Reuters reported. The 2008 probe was part of an investigation of conflicts of interest, fraud and other misconduct in the mortgage industry. The 2008 agreements, which expired in 2011, did not include any sanctions; reforms encompassed a new fee structure and additional transparency.
Schneiderman now is seeking information to determine whether or not he can bring new charges against the agencies, Reuters reported.
It is unclear if the expired agreements, which included a provision that permitted the attorney general to end the settlements if the ratings agencies didn’t comply with them, would enable New York to pursue legal action.
Ed Sweeney, a spokesman for Standard & Poor’s, declined to comment to Reuters on the subpoena. Moody’s and Fitch officials could not be reached for comment by Reuters.