Securities Law

Suit by Illinois AG Claims Credit Rating Agency Ignored Risks of Bundled Mortgages

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan claims in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday that Standard & Poor’s gave high ratings to mortgage-backed securities while ignoring the risks of the investments.

Madigan accuses the company of bolstering ratings to retain clients and generate revenue, report the Chicago-Sun-Times and the Associated Press.

The suit refers to employee emails showing a low opinion of the rating system. One employee says in an instant message that investments “could be structured by cows and we would rate it.”

“The mortgage-backed securities that helped our market soar—and ultimately crash—could not have been purchased by most investors without S&P’s seal of approval,” Madigan said in a statement.

An S&P spokesman said the suit is without merit.

Related coverage: “Ohio AG: Major Credit Agencies ‘Sold Out’ in Toxic Mortgage Mess” “Bond Rating Firms, Criticized in Subprime Crisis, Near Deal on Reform”

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