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 US trial over S&P ratings could begin in September 2015

Published on Jul 30, 2014 7:24 AM
The Standard and Poor's building is pictured in New York. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA (Reuters) – A trial on the U.S. government’s $5 billion lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s over the company’s ratings of mortgage bonds prior to the 2008 financial crisis could begin in September 2015 and last four months, the federal judge overseeing the case said on Tuesday.

A trial against S&P, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc , could ideally be wrapped up before the 2015 holiday season, Judge David Carter, of U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, said at a hearing. He declined to set a firm starting date.

The length of the trial and the millions of pages of documents needed for it reflect the challenges facing S&P, the largest U.S. credit rating agency, as it defends against lawsuits alleging it placed its own financial interests ahead of those of investors.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice and many states accused S&P of fraudulently representing that its ratings on structured finance securities were objective and not tainted by conflicts of interest. In June, S&P suffered a setback when another federal judge ruled that it must defend separately against similar lawsuits by 16 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. ; on Tuesday S&P said it is now doing so.

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