The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) on Thursday fined the German and U.K. divisions of Moody’s Investors Service a combined €1.24 million for breaching its rules governing credit rating agencies (CRAs).
ESMA found that the Moody’s divisions breached the rules with their public announcement of certain ratings, and their public disclosure of methodologies used to determine those ratings.
The alleged disclosure failures involve ratings for nine entities, including the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund, the European Stability Mechanism, the European Financial Stability Facility and the European Union, which were issued between June 2011 and December 2013.
According to the ESMA, the public announcement of the ratings issued by Moody’s Germany and Moody’s U.K. did not include material sources of public information, other than press releases. They also failed to disclose the principal methodology used for the ratings decisions.
Moody’s can appeal the regulator’s ruling to the board of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESA).
“Given the role of CRAs and ratings in financial markets, and their impact on investor trust and confidence, it is essential that high standards of transparency, are maintained and enforced,” ESMA says in a statement.
The rules requiring public disclosure of ratings methodologies is a key regulatory objective, allowing investors and market participants to verify that ratings are sound and reliable, it adds.