Standard & Poor’s will be suspended for a year from rating bonds in one of its most lucrative businesses in a $60 million settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
The deal, which the person said may be announced as soon as Wednesday, is the agency’s toughest action yet in an industry blamed for fueling the 2008 financial crisis by assigning inflated grades to risky mortgage debt. Instead of securities created during that period, though, the SEC’s investigation has looked at whether S&P bent its criteria to win business on commercial-mortgage bonds issued in 2011.
The suspension will ban S&P from rating debt in the biggest portion of that market, those that bundle multiple loans tied to anything from shopping malls to skyscrapers, into securities that are sold to bond investors, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
In addition to the SEC fine, the unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc. (MHFI) is also facing a penalty to settle probes of the same ratings by Attorneys General in New York and Massachusetts, said the person and a second with knowledge of the talks.