SEC Sues Morningstar’s Former Credit Ratings Agency

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/02/17/sec-sues-morningstars-former-credit-ratings-agency/

Excerpt:

In a rebuke to the SEC lawsuit, Morningstar issued a press release on Feb. 17, saying that MCR “complied with the regulatory requirements in question” while the SEC’s position is “inconsistent with its own rules and … policies” and that the agency has “overstepped its regulatory limitations by imposing requirements that would regulate the substance of credit rating methodologies.”

In an accompanying position paper, Morningstar said that by questioning MCR’s use of qualitative factors in its legacy CMBS ratings model, the SEC is “attempting to dictate the substance of MCR’s rating methodology,” which it is prohibited to do by law. “If the SEC believes additional rules are required — consistent with the analytical independence of a credit rating agency — the agency should go through the rule-making process, not file an action against MCR.”

Author(s): Bernice Napach

Publication Date: 17 February 2021

Publication Site: Think Advisor

SEC Charges Ratings Agency With Disclosure And Internal Controls Failures Relating To Undisclosed Model Adjustments

Link: https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2021-29

Excerpt:

he Securities and Exchange Commission today filed a civil action alleging that former credit ratings agency Morningstar Credit Ratings LLC  violated disclosure and internal controls provisions of the federal securities laws in rating commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS).

Credit ratings are used by market participants to help evaluate credit risk, price certain securities, and guide the investment decisions of individuals and institutional investors alike.  To promote transparency in the process, the federal securities laws require credit rating agencies to publicly and accurately describe the procedures and methodologies used to determine credit ratings, and to implement effective internal controls to ensure that they follow those procedures and methodologies. 

According to the complaint, in 30 CMBS transactions totaling $30 billion that Morningstar rated from 2015 to 2016, the credit rating agency permitted analysts to make undisclosed adjustments to key stresses in the model that it used in determining the rating for that transaction.  The complaint also alleges that Morningstar failed to establish and enforce an effective internal control structure governing the adjustments for a total of 31 transactions.

Additional link: https://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/2021/comp-pr2021-29.pdf

Publication Date: 16 February 2021

Publication Site: SEC