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Probe into 'possible insider trading' at S andP begins following US ratings downgrade

August 14, 2011 - London

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation of 'possible insider trading' at Standard and Poor, over the downgrading of US debt.

Authorities want to know who had prior knowledge of the ratings agency's plans to downgrade before it was made public last week, the Daily Mail reports.

According to the Financial Times report, the regulator, however, is not aware of a leak from an S andP insider, nor was it aware of an aberrational trade.

The US Senate Banking committee has also started looking into the recent decision by S andP's to downgrade the US credit rating.

An S andP spokesman has strongly denied any misconduct.

"In the course of our business, we are in regular communication with regulators, but we do not discuss particular interactions we might have with them," the paper quoted the spokesman, as saying.

"S andP takes its confidential information and securities trading policies, and the related securities regulation, very seriously. Our policies prohibit analysts or rating committee members from trading and holding securities or options of the companies or governments they rate," he said.

"In our July 14, Credit Watch Negative announcement, we indicated that there was an at least 50 percent chance of a potential of downgrade if an agreement regarding the debt ceiling is reached, but does not change the trajectory of US debt growth in the medium term," he added.

A potential insider trading investigation into Standard and Poor's emerged as a director at the agency hinted that Tea Party rhetoric was to blame for the downgrade.


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