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S&P paying $1.38B to settle charges over crisis-era ratings

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S&P pays upStandard & Poor's is paying about $1.38 billion to settle government allegations that it knowingly inflated its ratings of risky mortgage investments that helped trigger the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The settlement with the U.S. government, 19 states and the District of Columbia covers ratings issued from 2004 through 2007 by the McGraw-Hill subsidiary. It resolves a court fight that began with a government lawsuit two years ago and involved dozens of depositions and hundreds of millions of documents

Under the agreement, S&P admitted that it issued and confirmed positive ratings despite knowing that those assessments were unjustified and in many cases based on packages of mortgages that it knew were likely to default.

"On more than one occasion, the company's leadership ignored senior analysts who warned that the company had given top ratings to financial products that were failing to perform as advertised," Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference Tuesday.

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