S&P open to paying up to $1 billion to settle DOJ lawsuit: WSJ

July 16, 2014
A view shows the Standard & Poor's building in New York's financial district
A view shows the Standard & Poor's building in New York's financial district February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services decided to settle a pending lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and is open to paying about $1 billion to settle it, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

The DOJ filed a $5 billion lawsuit against S&P, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc, in February 2013 accusing the agency of inflating ratings for mortgage bonds to boost fees from issuers.

While a settlement of $1 billion would fall short of the $5 billion sought by the Justice Department, the ratings agency does not want to admit wrongdoing, the Journal said citing the people. (http://on.wsj.com/1jNVRww)

S&P had earlier called the lawsuit "meritless" and said the DOJ was wrong in its claim that the ratings were "motivated by commercial considerations." (http://reut.rs/1cIyEFj)

Representatives of S&P and the DOJ were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bangalore; Editing by Eric Walsh)