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Europe

Italy charges S&P, Fitch with market manipulation

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-11-12

An Italian prosecutor charged Standard & Poor's and Fitch on Monday with market manipulation, claiming that by downgrading the country the two ratings agencies helped to fuel the euro debt crisis.

An Italian prosecutor filed charges of market manipulation against Standard & Poor's and Fitch ratings agencies on Monday over downgrades of Italy's credit rating that helped fuel the euro debt crisis.

"We have filed charges against Standard & Poor's and Fitch," said Prosecutor Michele Ruggiero, who filed charges against seven people, five of whom worked at S&P's, while two worked at Fitch at the time of the alleged crime.

Among those charged are Deven Sharma, the head of S&P's from 2007 and 2011, and the operational director for Fitch, David Michael Willmoth Riley.

The charges have to be confirmed by a judge for any trial to go ahead -- a process which could take months under the Italian judicial system.

The ratings agencies have cooperated with the inquiry but insist their economic evaluations were independent and based on objective factors.

The investigation began after an Italian consumer group lodged a complaint against Moody's in 2010 for a downgrade of Italy's sovereign rating which rattled the financial markets and pushed up the country's borrowing costs.

Investigators have since focussed on more recent rating actions, particularly last year when market turmoil pushed Italy to the brink of bankruptcy and helped precipitate the downfall of Silvio Berlusconi.

The investigation into Moody's has been completed with no charged filed, the prosecutor said.

(AFP)

Date created : 2012-11-12

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