Justice Department Investigates Standard & Poor's Mortgage Security Ratings

Standard & Poor’s may be have a downgrade of sorts in store for itself, now that the credit ratings agency is the target of a Justice Department investigation into its ratings of mortgage companies before the financial crisis.

The New York Times cites anonymous sources who were interviewed by the government and/or briefed on such interviews. They say the DOJ is examining whether or not S&P business managers overruled analysts who wanted to place lower ratings on mortgage bonds. If the DOJ discovers the goods it’s looking for, it could sue S&P and show that S&P does not, as it claims, “act independently from business concerns.”

The fact that the DOJ is investigating does not mean it will take action. In an email to the Times, an S&P spokesman said:

“S.& P. has received several requests from different government agencies over the last few years. We continue to cooperate with these requests. We do not prevent such agencies from speaking with current or former employees.”

U.S. Inquiry Eyes S.&P. Ratings of Mortgages [The New York Times]