The Italian Almanac

Watching the Watchers

Watching the Watchers

International ratings agency Fitch, outraged by Italian prosecutors' decision to go after it for alleged market manipulation, said that it will limit its activities in Italy.

Earlier this week, prosecutors in Trani requested that managers of ratings agencies Standard & Poor's and Fitch be indicted for alleged market tampering related to their assessments, especially concerning Italy's sovereign debt. Prosecutors had said earlier this year that they were investigating the possibility that "false, unfounded or imprudent judgements" had unduly affected markets.

Fitch hit back, saying that the indictments were "unprecedented" and without merit. "Effective immediately - and in the absence of clarity around why Trani opposes analysts sharing legitimate opinions with the market in a transparent and appropriate manner - Fitch has restricted its market communication regarding the ratings of Italian entities and issuances to formal published research," said Fitch. "All teleconferences, conferences in Italy and any similar events for the purpose of discussing Italian entities are suspended, and questions from third-party market participants such as investors or journalists will be referred back to our published comments".

Standard & Poor's has called the Trani prosecutors' accusations "totally unfounded".