Financial ratings service Standard & Poor’s will pay almost $1.38 billion to settle charges that it took part in a scheme in which investors lost billions of dollars after putting money into securities whose credit ratings didn’t reflect their true risk.
Under the settlement, S&P parent company McGraw Hill Financial will make two payments of $687.5 million: one to the U.S. Justice Department and another that’s divided among 19 states and the District of Columbia.
McGraw Hill says it will also pay $125 million to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.
The deal “contains no findings of violations of law,” McGraw Hill points out in a statement released Tuesday morning. The settlements are not subject to a court’s approval.
The news comes nearly two years after the Justice Department sued Standard & Poor’s, “alleging that S&P engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in structured financial products known as Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs).”
In 2013, the agency said S&P’s desire to grow its own profits led it to give a false impression of complex securities that were a key element of the recent U.S. mortgage crisis.
Today’s settlements come less than two weeks after Standard & Poor’s settled charges of fraudulent misconduct filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its rating of commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). The service paid more than $77 million in that deal, with the bulk of the money going to the SEC and the rest going to New York and Massachusetts.
The SEC said Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services “elevated its own financial interests above investors by loosening its rating criteria to obtain business and then obscuring these changes from investors.”