NEW YORK, Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Standard & Poor's Rating Services (S&P), a subsidiary of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (NYSE: MHP), issued the following statement in response to the civil lawsuit filed last night by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and related state lawsuits regarding S&P ratings in 2007 on certain U.S. collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and S&P's rating models for residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS):
"The DOJ and some states have filed meritless civil lawsuits against S&P challenging some of our 2007 CDO ratings and the underlying RMBS models. Claims that we deliberately kept ratings high when we knew they should be lower are simply not true. We will vigorously defend S&P against these unwarranted claims. S&P has always been committed to serving the interests of investors and all market participants by providing independent opinions on creditworthiness based on available information. At all times, our ratings reflected our current best judgments about RMBS and the CDOs in question. Unfortunately, S&P, like everyone else, did not predict the speed and severity of the coming crisis and how credit quality would ultimately be affected.
"Although we deeply regret that these 2007 CDO ratings did not perform as expected, 20/20 hindsight is no basis to take legal action against the good-faith opinions of professionals. The fact is that S&P's ratings were based on the same subprime mortgage data available to the rest of the market – including U.S. Government officials who in 2007 publicly stated that problems in the subprime market appeared to be contained. Every CDO cited by the DOJ also independently received the same rating from another rating agency.
"There was robust internal debate within S&P about how a rapidly deteriorating housing market might affect the CDOs -- and we applied the collective judgment of our committee-based system in good faith. The email excerpts cherry picked by DOJ have been taken out of context, are contradicted by other evidence, and do not reflect our culture, integrity or how we do business.