California attorney general sues Standard & Poor's

  • California Attorney General Kamala Harris, right, accompanied by Attorney General Eric Holder, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. The U.S. government accused Standard & Poor's of inflating ratings on mortgage investments to boost its bottom line, taking aim at a key player in the run-up to the financial crisis. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

SAN FRANCISCO — California's attorney general on Tuesday joined the U.S. Department of Justice and several other states in accusing the debt rating agency Standard & Poor's of inflating its ratings of certain investments, costing the state's public pension funds and other investors billions of dollars.

The state's accusations were made in a lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court. The civil charges mirror the allegations the U.S. Department of Justice made in a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles, accusing the company of fraud for giving high ratings to risky mortgage bonds that helped bring about the financial crisis.

The DOJ announced its lawsuit at a Washington D.C. press conference Tuesday.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined the Justice Department at the press conference along with attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa and Mississippi, who have filed or will file separate, similar civil fraud lawsuits against S&P. More states are expected to sue, the Justice Department said.

The California lawsuit alleges that rating company's action led to the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System losing a combined $1 billion.

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