S&P Misled Investors, Australian Court Rules

Judge says S&P ratings on two structured debt issues were ‘deceptive.’

Standard & Poor’s misled investors by giving its highest credit grade to securities whose value plunged during the global financial crisis, an Australian judge ruled. The ratings company said it will appeal.

S&P was “misleading and deceptive” in its rating of two structured debt issues in 2006, Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot said in her ruling released today in Sydney. The Australian municipalities that brought the case are entitled to damages from S&P and two other defendants, ABN Amro Bank NV and Local Government Financial Services Pty., she ruled.

European Sales

The ruling may have implications in other jurisdictions, said John Walker, executive director of IMF (Australia) Ltd., a company that invests in litigation and funded the action. IMF is funding a claim in the Netherlands over 2 billion euro ($2.6 billion) in similar securities sold in Europe by ABN Amro and rated by S&P, he said in an e-mailed statement.

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