WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- In the wake of last year's Lehman Brothers collapse and the financial crisis ensnarling the markets, credit rating agencies are under intense scrutiny by Washington lawmakers and regulators. Private raters, such as Moody's Investors Service Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings, have been charged with failing to identify risks with problematic financial products such as residential mortgages securities as the financial crisis worsened, and even continuing to give high ratings to these high-risk products even as their value deteriorated. Contributing to the financial crisis, many corporations sought to buy top ratings by negotiating fees with raters. In some cases, individuals that were responsible for rating debt products also were in charge of the fees charged to corporations for those ratings. Raters also violated internal procedures in giving favorable ratings to securitized products. Keeping these conflicts in mind, Washington lawmakers and regulators are thinking about a wide variety of major changes to raters with the goal of giving investors useful and independent ratings of debt securities. One approach under consideration would be to set up a government rating agency that would rate corporate debt and compete with private credit rating agencies. The goal of a government rater would be to produce independent credit ratings by ending the practice of corporations paying fees in exchange for higher ratings. In addition to a government-funded rater, Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission are considering a wide-variety of other approaches to reforming the agencies, including a quasi-independent rating-agency-picker, an investor-paid model and an approach that expands disclosure requirements. These and other approaches will be discussed at the SEC at a Wednesday April 15 roundtable. http://www.marketwatch.com/news/sto...26-F5BD-48CE-869E-502A85A3954C}&dist=hplatest You should write your local politician to get rid off these fraudsters !