On December 3, 2008, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved a series of measures designed to limit conflicts of interest, increase transparency and accountability at credit rating agencies, and ensure that firms provide more meaningful ratings and greater disclosure to investors. The new rules will prohibit a ratings firm from rating a security if the firm advised the company issuing the security or its underwriter with respect to the structure, assets or activities of the issuer. In addition, more disclosure will be required on how ratings are determined and how valid they are over time.
The full text of the final rule amendments and proposed rule amendments are expected to be posted to the SEC website within a few weeks. In the meantime, the SEC issued a fact sheet regarding the new rules, available here.