State sues S&P over flawed ratings of securities

Indiana has joined a parade of states suing Standard & Poor’s over its awarding of favorable ratings to securities that blew up when the housing market collapsed.

Indiana’s case, filed Thursday in Marion Superior Court, charges S&P with “systematically and intentionally” misrepresenting its analysis of securities backed by commercial or residential mortgages in order to “maximize revenue and market share.”

At least 17 states have filed similar lawsuits. Indiana’s case, filed by Securities Commissioner Chris Naylor, does not specify the amount of damages the state is seeking. It alleges fraud, deception and violations of the Indiana Uniform Securities Act.

S&P, a unit of New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos., has denied wrongdoing and said that any lawsuit would be without merit.

The state says investors relied on S&P to accurately rate the riskiness of various mortgage-backed securities.

Issuers paid the firm and its chief rival, Moody's Investors Service, substantial amounts to assess the investments, which grew ever-more complex through the 2000s. The state charges that S&P's desire to win additional business colored its analysis.

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