Prosecutors in Italy are preparing to reopen the wounds of the eurozone debt crisis as they fight a crisis-era downgrade that put Italian creditworthiness level with Kazakhstan’s.
Five employees from global credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s and one from Fitch are accused of inflicting unjustified damage to Italy for their role in credit rating decisions in 2011 and 2012.
The case is a late addition to the global lawsuits that have been raised against the world’s largest credit rating agencies for their role in the financial crisis.
What marks the trial sought in Trani, southern Italy, as unusual is that individual employees are being accused alongside the agencies, although given the time lag since Italy’s rating downgrade a number have since left S&P and Fitch and now work elsewhere.
Italians are sceptical. Last year, Italy’s state auditor was roundly mocked for suggesting it could claim more than €200 billion in damages because S&P did not take Italy’s history, art and landscape into account when downgrading the country. Since 2012 the country’s rating has fallen still further to one notch above junk status as a result of weak economic growth and one of the largest burdens of debt in the world.
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