RPT-EU regulator cautions on credit rating agencies

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BRUSSELS, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Credit rating agencies should not be condemned until the facts surrounding their role in the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent credit squeeze have been properly assessed, a top European Union regulator said on Wednesday.

France and Germany are already drawing up proposals to improve transparency in credit rating agencies, criticised by the two countries and the European Commission for being too slow to warn investors about the risks of buying U.S. subprime-related products.

“The press and general opinion is saying it’s the fault of the credit rating agencies,” Eddy Wymeersch, chairman of Belgium’s Banking and Financial Commission watchdog told Reuters.

“Sorry, the ratings are just about the probability of default, nothing more. Now we have a liquidity crisis and not a solvency crisis,” said Wymeersch, who is also chairman of the Committee of European Securities Regulators which groups all national securities watchdogs in the 27-nation EU.

“We cannot condemn people before assessing the facts,” Wymeersch said.