| NEW YORK, March 18
NEW YORK, March 18 The credit rating agency
Fitch has agreed to settle a lawsuit by investors accusing it of
fraudulently assigning its highest rating to a risky debt
vehicle despite concern that the underlying home loans could
have high default rates.
According to a filing made public Friday in the U.S.
District Court in Manhattan, the settlement covers claims
brought by King County, Washington and the Iowa Student Loan
Liquidity Corp against Fitch, a unit of France's Fimalac SA
. Terms were not disclosed.
Fitch had been seeking to have U.S. District Judge Shira
Scheinlin reconsider a January decision allowing claims of fraud
against it and larger rivals Moody's Investors Service and
Standard & Poor's to proceed.
"We are pleased with this settlement, and while we believe
our recent motion to reconsider was extremely compelling we are
content to put this matter behind us," Daniel Noonan, a Fitch
spokesman, said on Monday.
Daniel Drosman, a lawyer for the two plaintiffs at Robbins
Geller Rudman & Dowd, confirmed the settlement but declined to
disclose its terms.
"We're satisfied with the resolution," he said.
The 2009 lawsuit arose out of the October 2007 collapse of
Rhinebridge Plc, a structured investment vehicle managed by the
Germany's IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG and structured
by Morgan Stanley.
The investors accused the defendants of misrepresenting the
risks of Rhinebridge, which had triple-A credit ratings despite
its holding in subprime mortgage-backed assets.
Plaintiffs in the case are seeking $70 million of
compensatory damages, Moody's has said in a regulatory filing.
IKB had entered a confidential settlement with the investors
in June 2012. The remaining defendants include Morgan Stanley,
S&P parent McGraw Hill Cos and Moody's Corp.
A separate case also naming Moody's, S&P and Morgan Stanley
is scheduled for a May 6 trial before the same judge over their
roles with a different structured investment vehicle, known as
Cheyne. Investors are seeking $638 million in damages in that
The cases are King County, Washington v. IKB Deutsche
Industriebank AG et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District
of New York, No. 09-8387, and Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corp
v. IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG et al in the same court, No.