Standard & Poor's agreed to pay $20 million and halt part of its commercial-mortgage bond business for a year to settle claims by two states that it altered its criteria for rating eight deals to win business.
Separately, S&P will pay about $60 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission, people familiar with the matter have said, bringing the total to resolve the SEC and state claims to almost $80 million.
S&P agreed to settle with New York and Massachusetts over claims the firm made $7 million in fees on six deals in 2011 after loosening standards for calculating the debt-service coverage ratio, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement Wednesday. S&P misled investors into thinking that the deals were graded by more stringent criteria, according to the statement. The agreement also calls for S&P to give up $7 million in disgorgement.
"Today's joint actions are an unprecedented effort to hold a ratings agency accountable for upholding its basic responsibility to provide rigorous and honest ratings to investors," Schneiderman said in the statement.
The SEC and attorneys general investigations are separate from a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against SS&P related to securities backed by subprime home loans that the company graded years earlier.