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Treasury aims to Sarbox Moody's, S&P; Print E-mail

Department wants to end close ties between raters and those they rate.

(Reuters) -- The U.S. Treasury Department said this week it hopes new disclosure and conflict of interest rules will curb the power of credit rating agencies that have been blamed for fueling the recent financial crisis.
The Treasury sent an 18-page draft bill to Congress that would prevent credit rating agencies from consulting for the companies they are responsible for evaluating.
Not surprisingly, the stock prices of Moody's and McGraw Hill, parent of Standard & Poor's, took a sizable hit after the announcement.
The Securities and Exchange Commission would have new powers to regulate the industry and companies would have to disclose when they go "ratings shopping" in two other provisions of the plan."In recent years, investors were overly reliant on credit rating agencies that often failed to accurately describe the risk of rated products," the Treasury said in a statement.
The reform is meant to help reduce reliance on credit rating companies, the government said.
Still, the plan does not tinker with the basic business model that has ratings agencies relying on fees from the companies that they evaluate.
"Credit ratings agencies will face similar restrictions to other professional services providers, like accountants, and will be prohibited from providing consulting services to companies that contract for ratings," the Treasury said in a statement.
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