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Thursday, May 13, 2010

US: 8 top banks under probe for duping rating firms

The New York attorney general has begun an investigation into eight banks to determine whether they provided misleading information to agencies that rate mortgage securities, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office issued subpoenas late on Wednesday notifying the banks of his investigation, the Times reported on its Web site, citing two people with knowledge of the probe.

According to the report, the probe's targets are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Credit Agricole and Merrill Lynch, now owned by Bank of America.

The inquiry by Cuomo suggests he thinks the rating agencies may have been duped by one or more of the targets of his investigation, the report said.

The Times said spokespeople for Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank declined to comment and other banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The companies that rated the mortgage deals were Standard & Poor's, Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service, the report said.

Cuomo was also interested in ratings agency employees hired by bank mortgage desks to help create mortgage deals that got better ratings than they deserved, the newspaper reported, citing the sources, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

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