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SEC finds 'apparent failures' at credit rating agencies

Credit rating agencies, which have been criticized for lax oversight that helped lead to the subprime mortgage crisis, got knocked again on Friday -- this time by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In its first annual report on the agencies that rate debt for companies, cities, states and countries, among other things, the SEC said even though the ratings agencies have made some improvements, they still fall short in many key areas.

Among the areas of concern the SEC identified are: "apparent failures in some instances to follow ratings methodologies and procedures, to make timely and accurate disclosures, to establish effective internal control structures for the rating process and to adequately manage conflicts of interest."

The report is part of the SEC's new role to watchdog the agencies, which include Standard & Poor's (owned by McGraw-Hill), Moody's and Fitch, under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act.

You can read the SEC's full report here.