Italy versus S&P: Italian PM concludes its probe into the rating agency

Italian public attorney (PM) Michele Ruggiero has concluded a probe into Standard & Poor’s over the credit rating agency’s downgrades of Italy at the beginning of the year, which led to a strong sell-off of Italian assets.

The probe was launched following legal complaints by Italy’s consumers associations Adusbef and Federconsumatori, with allegations of market manipulation and abuse of privileged information against the rating agency.

Prosecution was carried from the southern town of Trani, based on allegations that Italy’s reports were leaked during market hours and with incorrect ratings, triggering steep losses on the Milan stock market.

Similar claims were turned down by courts in Milan and Rome.

“We believe the reported claims are baseless and unsupported by any evidence. We will continue to defend vigorously our actions and the reputation of our company and people,” Standard & Poor’s said.

The agency added its controlling shareholders didn’t have access to data or reports before the downgrade was made public.

Consob, Italy’s stock market regulator, will now analyse Ruggiero’s conclusions and decide if Standard & Poor’s will be able to operate on the Italian market in the future.

Similar allegations have been made against rival rating agencies Moody’s and Fitch Ratings, and separate probes are expected to be completed in June. 


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