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Judge tentatively lets U.S. pursue lawsuit versus S&P

A view shows the Standard & Poor's building in New York's financial district February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A view shows the Standard & Poor's building in New York's financial district February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - A federal judge has made a tentative ruling that would let the U.S. government pursue its $5 billion civil lawsuit accusing Standard & Poor's of defrauding investors by inflating credit ratings prior to the financial crisis.

In a written ruling made public late on Monday, U.S. District Judge David Carter in Santa Ana, California said the government had sufficiently alleged that S&P's ratings were objectively and subjectively false, and that the rating agency intended to deceive investors.

S&P is a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc. It has maintained that the lawsuit lacks merit.

Carter issued the ruling after a court hearing. According to the Wall Street Journal, the judge said he would make a final ruling by July 15.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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