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Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More SEC Rulemaking on NRSROs

The SEC continues its rulemaking to improve rating agencies.  Today it adopted rule amendments that impose additional disclosure and conflict of interest requirements on nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (“NRSROs”) in order to address concerns about the integrity of the credit rating procedures and methodologies at NRSROs.

In addition, the agency is proposing rule amendments and a new rule that would impose additional requirements on nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (“NRSROs”). The proposed amendments and rule would require an NRSRO: (1) to furnish a new annual report describing the steps taken by the firm’s designated compliance officer during the fiscal year with respect to compliance reviews, identifications of material compliance matters, remediation measures taken to address those matters, and identification of the persons within the NRSRO advised of the results of the reviews; (2) to disclose additional information about sources of revenues on Form NRSRO; and (3) to make publicly available a consolidated report containing information about revenues of the NRSRO attributable to persons paying the NRSRO for the issuance or maintenance of a credit rating.

Finally, the SEC announced that it is deferring consideration of action with respect to a proposed rule that would have required an NRSRO to include, each time it published a credit rating for a structured finance
product, a report describing how the credit ratings procedures and methodologies and credit risk characteristics for structured finance products differ from those of other types of rated instruments, or, alternatively, to use distinct ratings symbols for structured finance products that differentiated them from the credit ratings for other types of financial instruments.

The SEC is also soliciting comments regarding alternative measures that could be taken to differentiate NRSROs’ structured finance credit ratings from the credit ratings they issue for other types of financial instruments through, for example, enhanced disclosures of information. The Commission also is soliciting comment on whether the rule amendments being adopted today in a separate release designed to remove impediments to determining and monitoring non-issuer-paid credit ratings for structured finance products should be extended to create a mechanism for determining non-issuer-paid credit ratings for structured finance products that were issued prior to the rule becoming effective (e.g., to allow for non-issuer-paid credit ratings for structured finance products of the 2004-2007 vintage).

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