ROME Feb 5 The Corte dei Conti, Italy's main
public audit body, has informed three rating agencies that it
has opened an investigation into cuts in Italy's sovereign debt
ratings in 2011 and 2012, the prosecutor in charge of the case
said on Wednesday.
In their investigation, Corte dei Conti prosecutors allege
that the cuts by ratings agencies Moody's, Standard and Poor's
and Fitch Investor Service -- which came during the worst
periods of the euro-zone debt crisis -- were unjustified and
cost the Italian state more than 117 billion euros ($158.07
billion), the prosecutor in the Lazio region, Raffaele De
Dominicis, told Reuters.
De Dominicis said the agencies had two months to respond to
the Corte dei Conti letter. Prosecutors would then have a
further four months to decide how to proceed.
A spokesman for Standard and Poor's described the
allegations as "frivolous and entirely without merit". Moody's
said the allegations were "without merit."
($1 = 0.7402 euros)
(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni)