Credit-rating companies routinely award higher rankings to debt issued by banks and corporations that pay them the most, a conflict of interest that may escape Congressional efforts to change the way they do business.
Shareholders in U.S.-listed companies can thank Standard & Poor’s for making them $1 trillion poorer after the rating firm earlier this month lowered the grade on Treasury securities for the first time to AA+ from AAA. Now, some of the most experienced investors say the stock market losses make no sense.
San Francisco lawyer John Keker, the Vietnam War platoon leader who later prosecuted Oliver North and represented clients from Eldridge Cleaver to Lance Armstrong, may deploy his “slashing and smashing” approach to defend Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC.
Eight offshore banks are under federal grand jury investigation for facilitating tax evasion by U.S. citizens as part of a probe the Justice Department said has dealt “fabled Swiss bank secrecy a devastating blow.”