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DOJ Scrambles To Appear Impartial, Says "Don't Think Moody's Is Off The Hook"

Tyler Durden's picture


While Moody's slipped over 20% when the DoJ announced its cajillion dollar lawsuit against S&P for knowing the crisis was coming but not telling anyone, it later bounced back over 10% as investors believed the non-US-downgrading rating agency (that happened to be owned by Buffett) was too-big-to-jail. After-hours today, Reuters is reporting that the Justice Department and multiple states are discussing also suing Moody's Corp for defrauding investors, according to people familiar with the matter, but any such move will likely wait until a similar lawsuit against rival Standard and Poor's is tested in the courts. The stock is trading down 3% after-hours as sources (not authorized to speak publicly) added "don't think Moody's is off the hook." We can't help but think about the pending sequester-delaying deficit spike as perhaps, to appear impartial, the DoJ will keep the threat of a lawsuit against Moody's alive... during the entire period when the US may and should be downgraded.



U.S. Justice Dept, states weigh action against Moody's

* Federal, state actions contemplated against Moody's

* Connecticut case against Moody's proceeding to trial

* Lawyers say stronger paper trail exists against S&P

By Aruna Viswanatha and Luciana Lopez

Feb 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department and multiple states are discussing also suing Moody's Corp for defrauding investors, according to people familiar with the matter, but any such move will likely wait until a similar lawsuit against rival Standard and Poor's is tested in the courts.


Inquiries into Moody's are in the early stages, largely because state and federal authorities have dedicated more resources to the S&P lawsuit, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about enforcement discussions.




Moody's in the past has defended itself against similar allegations, including a 2011 congressional report that concluded the major ratings agencies manipulated ratings to drive business.




"Don't think Moody's is off the hook," said one law enforcement official.


Another rival, Fimalac SA's Fitch Ratings, is unlikely to face similar action, the sources said, since it is a much smaller player in the U.S. ratings industry. The firm also escaped the brunt of scrutiny from congressional investigators.




A similar coordinated federal-state action against Moody's would follow lawsuits two states have already filed against the ratings firm. Connecticut, which led the states in this week's actions, sued Moody's and S&P in March 2010.


In January a state court in Hartford denied the last of the preliminary motions Moody's had filed to have the case thrown out. That case and the one against S&P are proceeding to trial in the second half of 2014.


Those earlier cases and the more recent ones against S&P are based on a theory that the firms misled investors by stating that their ratings on mortgage products were objective and not influenced by conflicts of interest.


Instead, the lawsuits contend, the firms inflated ratings and understated risks as the housing bubble started to burst, driven by a desire to gain more business from the investment banks that issued mortgage securities.


Framing the cases in that manner steers clear of attacking individual ratings, which have largely been shielded under free speech protections. Instead, the focus is on proving false just one statement S&P made - that its ratings were objective.




"It may very well be that the government's testing their waters and they don't want to bite off more than they can chew," said Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates in Houston, a former federal prosecutor. "Nobody should take these cases lightly."


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Thu, 02/07/2013 - 19:53 | 3224560 AldoHux_IV
AldoHux_IV's picture

DOJ aint worth its weight in human flesh and tax dollars until they go after the fed, treasury, banks, credit agencies, etc. Until then, it's all a fucking poor showing of "justice".

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:02 | 3224576 Jay Gould Esq.
Jay Gould Esq.'s picture

Of course Moody's is off the hook: Uncle Warren has a stake in it, does he not ?

Make it rain.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:09 | 3224738 sgt_doom
sgt_doom's picture

Sweet jaysus!  Am I the only American who can read or has a brain who bothered to read the FCIC report?

Is everyone brain dead?

(And make sure to read John Moody's "Masters of Capital" for some really enlightening stuff many won't believe until they read it.  Hint: on that phony Standard Oil "breakup" and who sold those subs to Germany to sink the Lusiatania --- John Moody wrote of it prior to it's happening --- can't call that "conspiracy theory" -- especially since the CIA didn't exist yet and hadn't made up the phrase yet.)

A few choice nuggets from the FCIC report:

In our report, you will read about the breakdowns at Moody’s, examined by the Commission as a case study. From 2000 to 2007, Moody’s rated nearly 45,000 mortgage-related securities as triple-A. This compares with six private-sector companies in the United States that carried this coveted rating in early 2010. In 2006 alone, Moody’s put its triple-A stamp of approval on 30 mortgage-related securities every working day. The results were disastrous: 83% of the mortgage securities rated

triple-A that year ultimately were downgraded.

You will also read about the forces at work behind the breakdowns at Moody’s, including the flawed computer models, the pressure from financial firms that paid for the ratings, the relentless drive for market share, the lack of resources to do the job despite record profits, and the absence of meaningful public oversight. And you will see that without the active participation of the rating agencies, the market for mortgage-related securities could not have been what it became.

 …….Warren Buffett, the chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which until 2009 was the largest single shareholder of Moody’s Corporation, told the Commission that “very, very few people could appreciate the bubble,” which he called a “mass delusion” shared by “300 million Americans.”  Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., likened the financial crisis to a hurricane.


The rating of structured finance products such as mortgage-backed securities made up close to half of Moody’s rating revenues in 2005, 2006, and 2007.  From 2000 to 2007, revenues from rating such financial instruments increased more than fourfold.  But the rating process involved many conflicts, which would come into focus during the crisis.

[Plenty more on Moody's --- so read the report already!]





Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:20 | 3224760 knukles
knukles's picture

Now now nwo (Oooopsie, not intentional!) now....
Let's look at this with a clear mind and no predispositions.
Eagan's being forced out of business for downgrading the US
S&P's being fucked for rating the MBS shite way the fuck too high, doing the bank's money bidding....
So somebody's gotta pay for being the Bad Boys (on behalf of the banks, who bloody well "own" Moody's, Fitch and S&P given the way the issuer pays for the ratings... duh-fucking-h)

And Moody's?
Moody's?  Well, Uncle Warren was the big Owner of Moody's so they were theretofore sacrosanct, untouchable, A-OK by the Way of God, Goldman and Godzilla.

So, where's the beef?  Not in British hamburgers, my friends.

This is all somebody has Got To Pay For The Errors of their Ways, Questioning Authority....

Eagan's got theirs.  Sizeola warning, but subscribers pay for their research.  (Hey Shawn, ever hear of sub-contracting out some business?)
S&P, somebody screwed those poor foreign banks that we got to bail out.... explained

And Moody's?
You'll get yours...

I don't mean to sound cynical.  I am cynical.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:41 | 3224806 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

AAA+++ Would LOL again.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:19 | 3224761 Say What Again
Say What Again's picture

Why does ANYONE depend on these "Ratings Agencies?" 


IMHO, if a given security is too complicated for a buyer to understand, then they should not trade that asset.  I really don't care if a given ratings agency tries to sell their service.  This is America, and I should be free to sell my "expertise" in any given area, as long am I'm not violating IP law, or state secrets, etc.  If some client wants to buy my ideas, great!

But it is criminal for a fund that has a fiduciary responsibility for other people's money to depend on these agencies.  If they can't figure out how some overly-leveraged-subdivided-tranched-hypothecated security works, maybe -- just maybe, they should stay away from that "security."

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:31 | 3224782 espirit
espirit's picture


Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:08 | 3224596 bobthehorse
bobthehorse's picture

Fuck the DOJ.

And fuck Eric Holder.

Let's cornhole and shoot all the bastards.


Thu, 02/07/2013 - 22:43 | 3224921 Frankie Carbone
Frankie Carbone's picture

You risk being labeled a domestic terrorist.

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 10:13 | 3225600 marathonman
marathonman's picture

Anyone voicing discent with the regime is a domestic terrorist.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:08 | 3224739 Stoploss
Stoploss's picture

If i was S&P i would have had the US at CCC 48 hours ago.

At this point it doesn't matter for S&P.


Bring the hooks S&P, or yall dont have a hair on your asses.

If your going down, then god dammit, go down swinging like a fucking retard on coke..

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 00:02 | 3225101 a growing concern
a growing concern's picture


Thu, 02/07/2013 - 19:55 | 3224565 nmewn
nmewn's picture

I'm downgrading the DOJ to junk.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 19:58 | 3224570 Troll Magnet
Troll Magnet's picture

I'm downgrading Eric Holder to POS.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 19:59 | 3224573 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Winner! ;-)

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:30 | 3224648 Ima anal sphincter
Ima anal sphincter's picture

Could you please help out a dumb-ass. A couple months back you "explained" the meaning of nmewn. I thought it was cool, but just like with new acquaintance names..... it slipped right out of my memory functions.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:47 | 3224692 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Sure, no problem.

It means "enemy within". N-M-E within.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:45 | 3224816 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Here I thought you were just a cat amongst the "n"s.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 22:06 | 3224857 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Mmmm, could be ;-)

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 22:46 | 3224926 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

"the inside job." hmmmm. "Wall Street had this thing played all along" is a VERY interesting theory. Still looks like a Pig in Python result however. Screwing Uncle Salami in the very first innings of a "Clash of Civilizations" means a LOT has to go wrong from the (government) people you are trying to "take down." so far i would argue the Government folks (save DOJ which CLEARLY has no idea what the Constitution is) have been acting like rock stars going on 4 years now. I know i'd be more than sweating if i just attempted to openly kneecap the Pentagon only to miss and find my loot "a mere pittance" as the market corrects (albeit massively) then soars instead of simply "collapsing and just staying there." In other words "good luck shorting this thing to the upside." That strikes me as a VERY challenging trade "with which to pay the Government back it's Army Divisions and Naval Fleets." Perhaps we could start with simply "putting the money back you stole from the banks" after failing to kill them as well...

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 19:59 | 3224575 Doubleguns
Doubleguns's picture

I figure thats an upgrade.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:46 | 3224684 Mae Kadoodie
Mae Kadoodie's picture

Lanny can you hear me?  Can you feel me near you?  Lanny?  Lanny?

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 19:57 | 3224568 Everybodys All ...
Everybodys All American's picture

The department of justice has no credibiity.  Just ask Corzine.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 19:59 | 3224574 Troll Magnet
Troll Magnet's picture

The DOJ would get the most glowing review from Jon Corzine.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:24 | 3224628 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

just Corzine-how about very asshole on Wall St?

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:23 | 3224768 knukles
knukles's picture

The Street openly amongst one another admits the Agencies are Owned

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 19:58 | 3224571 Doubleguns
Doubleguns's picture

SAP should down grade now. Just to prove they are not and will not get caught slacking.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:20 | 3224621 in4mayshun
in4mayshun's picture

With the FED buying 75% of all 30 yr bonds in Feb, we don't need S&P to tell the world that the USA's credit is crap.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:02 | 3224584 Lost Wages
Lost Wages's picture


Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:06 | 3224592 hooligan2009
hooligan2009's picture

whew..that's alright then!

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:14 | 3224599 EscapingProgress
EscapingProgress's picture

"Another rival, Fimalac SA's Fitch Ratings, is unlikely to face similar action, the sources said, since it is a much smaller player in the U.S. ratings industry."

A much smaller player? What about Egan-Jones? Oh, that's right, they downgraded the Great Satan. 

Here is the EP rating for US debt - C: highly vulnerable, perhaps in bankruptcy or inflationary technical default

My lawyers and air defenses are ready. Bring it.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:19 | 3224616 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

 Who is going to have the nuts enough to downgrade a fucking "grain of sand" while this shit is going on?

No matter how this clusterfuck turns out, the douchebag D/C assholes are wearing their "Jack Boots"...

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:50 | 3224691 Everybodys All ...
Everybodys All American's picture

That my friend should be a major part of their defense strategy. Not that they aren't guilty of some malfeasance. But they are no more culpable than Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd, Robert Rubin, Anthony Mazillo, Jamie Dimon, Maxine Walters, Timothy Geithner, Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, etc. I'm sure you get my drift. The last I've heard the DOJ is not going after them.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:03 | 3224714 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

 Kindergarten rules?  Ringmasters [circus] have evolved into Ringleaders {circus} . I agree with your comment. +1

  DoJ is saving the best for last. When the people demand a few heads, the DoJ will swing the AX/   Then the people will go after the DoJ. ;-)

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:37 | 3224661 goldenbuddha454
goldenbuddha454's picture

The only goal here is the total and complete elimination of all 'unfriendly' credit agencies.  In no way is justice sought here.  Any unfriendly that can be eliminated will signal the surviving credit agencies that the USA should always have a AAA+ credit rating regardless of deficits and spending.  They want to eliminate the debt ceiling as well which will allow the gov. unlimited spending at all times.  The liberal nirvana.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:26 | 3224775 knukles
knukles's picture

The liberal nirvana.

The Man Understands
Leviathan must have its way, regardless

"We had to burn the village to save it"

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:49 | 3224824 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

  Never cease to amaze knuckles. +1

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:51 | 3224680 tom a taxpayer
tom a taxpayer's picture

DOJ and S&P Settlement negotiations:

DOJ: "Raise U.S. crediting to AAA+ and we'll drop the charges and penalties to a traffic fine."

S&P: "Agreed."


Thu, 02/07/2013 - 20:52 | 3224707 q99x2
q99x2's picture

Replace the Place Holder for the NWO.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:37 | 3224794 toomanyfakecons...
toomanyfakeconservatives's picture

Two words... "deferred prosecution".


I told you once and I'll tell you again, deferred prosecution is even worse than the plea bargain racket. In a plea bargain scenario, the persecuted generally has a good idea of the evidence, the overall state of the case against them, and the case law involved. In a "deferred prosecution" scenario, the prosecutor can threaten, blackmail, blow smoke, and pull all kinds of shit without having to even file charges or produce a shred of evidence or case law.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 21:40 | 3224803 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

The DOJ is a feckless wonder.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 22:13 | 3224872 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

  The DoJ is just an extension of the FBI. These acronyms are antiquated. The government is screwing itself into the ground.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 22:04 | 3224854 asiafinancenews
asiafinancenews's picture

The DOJ's civil suit against Standard & Poor's is long overdue. This is not the only instance of S&P issuing knowingly false credit ratings. S&P also maintains a demonstrably false (i.e., bogus) 'investment grade' sovereign credit rating for China, as the following Civil Racketeering and Antitrust Complaint filed with the Antitrust Division of the DOJ exposes:


The above Complaint describes the wrongful actions of the three primary credit rating agencies as well as those of Goldman Sachs.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 22:17 | 3224879 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

 So, Magellan? Who fills the HOLE?  The DoJ? Go suck some {Hang Seng} "puts".

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 18:01 | 3227325 asiafinancenews
asiafinancenews's picture

After a series of private meetings with Chinese officials and analysts at the World Economic Forum this week one senior executive from a very large western fund manager told the Financial Times that he was doing just that:

“After what I’ve heard I’m really worried now about being the dumb foreigner sitting across the negotiating table from the locals who are packed and ready to run to the airport.”



The Chinese regime is in a serious economic crisis and on the brink of bankruptcy: “In China, every province is a Greece.” - Dr. Larry Lang, Chair of the Finance Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 02:43 | 3225270 goldenbuddha454
goldenbuddha454's picture

Well, would you rather invest in A)  A country with very little debt, a mountain of PM's and commodities, a thriving industrial/manufacturing sector or B)  A country with a mountain of debt, very little industrial/manufacturing, an aging population, an out-of-control money-printing machine, no security on any border, with 50% of its people on foodstamps, bailed out banks and bailed out auto companies, an overbuilt housing sector, entitlement straddled annual fiscal budget?  Seems to me there is one country that is actually worthy of 'investment grade' here and it aint us!

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 18:03 | 3227335 asiafinancenews
asiafinancenews's picture

After a series of private meetings with Chinese officials and analysts at the World Economic Forum this week one senior executive from a very large western fund manager told the Financial Times that he was doing just that:


“After what I’ve heard I’m really worried now about being the dumb foreigner sitting across the negotiating table from the locals who are packed and ready to run to the airport.”






The Chinese regime is in a serious economic crisis and on the brink of bankruptcy:


“In China, every province is a Greece.”


- Dr. Larry Lang, Chair of the Finance Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 22:20 | 3224885 yatikto
yatikto's picture

Moodys should come out tomorrow with a AAAAAA rating..

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 23:15 | 3224971 Dewey Cheatum Howe
Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

I'm actually encouraged by this simply because of the fact they made this statement. The pressure is on and they are feeling it. Libertarians have been screaming bloody murder over this stuff for awhile now and it seems the message is permeating into the matrix finally.

I don't expect anything more than a public relations (propaganda) circle jerk but it is a start. Keep screaming bloody murder and keep that spotlight shining and digging. We can't take the foot off the accelerator peddle. These banker bastards need the DOJ and regulation agencies like the SEC to hide behind, if you delegitimize the DOJ for not doing their job by pointing out the hypocrisy and tearing apart justifications with facts they lose their cover and the gig is up. They either have to do their job or we do it for us since they failed us.

Thu, 02/07/2013 - 23:33 | 3225012 Cadavre
Cadavre's picture

Hole shit Bat Man .... Wavy lines - spiraling spirals - diminished chords and dissonant scales ...

da de da da da de da da da de da da

... fades into an elevator voice ... You have enter a world without site or sound and right side up is upside down .. then recall the initial S&P downgrade and subsequent penetrations of S&P by an ad hoc group  of retired VA orderlies code named "Federal Acquisition Group Services", put together by our most illustrious AG who, as known to most, distinguished himself early on as a crusader against high finance shenanigans and the delicate art of the "fat cat" reach around (the Guug), unless, of course, the focus of the investigation was one hell `uva high dollar donor, in coordination with our very able Fuhrer of the "see something say something" cause all "Americans are Terror Suspects" (GIF) department of latent hermaphrodites. A summary graphic of "Federal Acquisition Group Services" penetration team's fruits are here (GIF)

Our AG has a reputation for putting his shorts on backwards when throat throttling for another fix in the back alleys of 59th and Lex. Eric the Zipper Dragon Killer!

Hear all the noise - but what is the material prosecutable complaint against S&P. The  X-Series 7 guy down the street, points to them as one of the culprits (along with nail salon technicians and crazy democrats). My assumption was the rating agencies rely on the prospectus put together by the bond factory ... err ... investment bank. X-7 says "NO NO NO - those guys have to look at the underlying paper!". I ask - you know that for a fact - he say welll err - not really. I ask, ain't that what the mortgage writer and investment bank sposed to do - isn't that why all those guys have SEC tickets. Isn't an SEC ticket an assurance that the investment banks "moral turpitude demon" free entities?

I press - would not the underlying paper also suspect? He did his best pantomime of "i know what i be talking bout" garnished with angry expertise to avoid details - a faith based argument does not need proof. The fraud was everywhere - from golf tanned realtors through to inspectors and underwrites in [both] the mortgage documents and the prospectus.

I wanted to ask if he was suggesting the S&P was required by law to interview any mortgage holder in the bond? But by that time his glazed eyes indicated brain cell freeze - voicomp (YouTube) gets em every time.

S&P said they relied on the same paper the NGOs did - no more - no less - of course there may be a remote chance that the S&P impending tier II downgrade of US credity worthiness, like trouble, approaches on a fast horse.

What to do - what to do!

What do rating agencies do? Don't they just certify the VAr claimed by the bond factory. They just re-crunch the cash flows represented in the prospectus and certify the flows claimed by the prospectus are as advertised (don't they)?

So the Warren gets sloppy seconds if and only if the S&P suit in a poke goes well. If AG ministrations against S&P fail miserably, the the Warren won't have to sniff the AG staffs Taco Bell farts during deposition.

Any body give me odds that ourprime time primped and pimped bellboy AG will bale on the S&P cause - shit - the S&P will be demanding testimony from all them executive fraudsters comping kiddie treats for the politicos in the K-Street Brothels - if urs true were a betting man he'd  wager the S&P complaint will fall off the docket and we'll get two weeks of "up to the minute breakings" about some AL KADA guy launching a bottle rocket into an empty field from his rectal sphincter, with hopes the sheeple forget it ever was an issue.

We will not forget.

Fuckin public service kiddie fondler's - who needs em - cept a fat cat seeking forbidden thrills in a lame brained civil servant's chocolate highway (bend over eric) -- new rule - Congress shall spend no money without a referendum from their employers for each expenditure (datz would be us).

... this is gonna be so easy - i getting goose bumps on me chigger bites just `bating about it!

Only thing S&P did was call a spade a spade.

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 02:24 | 3225255 Lord Of Finance
Lord Of Finance's picture

Yeah right. Obama's DoI(department of injustice) is gonna go after Moody's, the same way OJ Simpson started his own investigation "to find the real killers".


To ensure there is no sign of bias, they will appoint a special investigation team to the case headed by Johnny Cockran.



  If the derivative aint legit, you gotta aquit.




Btw. I know Johnny is no longer with us. That is precisely the point.



Fri, 02/08/2013 - 13:23 | 3226237 Lord Koos
Lord Koos's picture

Much ado about nothing.  Even if they do sue Moody's, the banksters are still safe.  This is the prosecution going after a few wise guys but letting the godfathers off the hook.

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 14:07 | 3226441 Lord Of Finance
Lord Of Finance's picture

Better yet. The DoI does appoint prosecuters not defense attorneys so my analogy was not complete.


   The DoI should appoint Marsha Clarke and Christopher Darden as a special prostitutor. That will ensure the case against the Buffet backed agency is fool proof, considering what a magnificent job those two prostitutors did during the O.J. trial.

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