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NY Times: Justice Dept. Now Investigating S&P

Started before downgrade.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The New York Times reports that the Justice Department is investigating whether the Standard & Poor's credit ratings agency improperly rated dozens of mortgage securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

A story on the newspaper's website late Wednesday cites two people interviewed by the government and another briefed on such interviews as its sources.

The newspaper says the investigation began before Standard & Poor's cut the United States' AAA credit rating this month, but says it's likely to add to the political firestorm created by the downgrade.

According to people with knowledge of the interviews, the Justice Department has been asking about instances in which the company's analysts wanted to award lower ratings on mortgage bonds but may have been overruled by other S&P business managers.

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