New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo is understood to be nearing a deal with the major ratings agencies over their role in the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

The settlement, which mayyet fall apart, will give the major firms – Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings – six months to roll out new policies on fee structures and increased disclosure.

But, importantly, it is believed that they will not have to admit any wrongdoing and will not face prosecution in return for providing Cuomo’s investigators with assistance into his wider investigation into howWall Street packaged sub-prime mortgages into securities.

The trio have been criticised fornot being critical enough when itcame to rating mortgagebacked securities, placing strong ratings on whatturned out to be risky investment vehicles.

Daily Telegraph, The Times