Rating-agency probe to conclude in 2013, Italians say

Prosecutor fingers managers abroad for 120-bn-euro damages

Rating-agency probe to conclude in 2013, Italians say

Rome, February 20 - A Lazio Audit Court prosecutor said an investigation against international rating agencies for alleged market tampering could close by the year's end, and fingered blame against agency managers located outside of Italy. "I hope to close the investigation by the end of 2013 against at least two rating agencies," said Raffaele De Dominicis during a Rome press conference to mark the end of the judicial year. "We are (still) quantifying the damage done to the Italian State, but from the results of a number of consultations, I can say that we are (talking about) well over 120 billion euros," De Dominicis added, confirming figures reported in November. "By the end of the end of this year, I will send notice to conduct the investigation outside of Italy. "We have already heard the Italian representatives of the companies. They have (denied) their blame, stating that the analyses of the Italian situation were conducted abroad". On November 12, the chief prosecutor in the southern Italian city of Trani announced that Lazio's Audit Court - which probes government expenditures - had opened an investigation into alleged market manipulation by two international rating agencies and estimated damages to the Italian Treasury at 120 billion euros. Trani Prosecutor Carlo Maria Capristo also announced that prosecutors there had requested indictments for top management at Standard & Poor's and Fitch agencies in a parallel investigation. S&P called the Trani prosecutors' accusations "totally unfounded" and added that the agency will continue to work "without fear".

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