It is all but certain that ratings of mortgage-backed securities by S&P and Moody's (MCO) were influenced by the money that the issuers paid to the credit ratings agencies. This money was not for bribes, but it did fatten the wallets of the two operations. Congress has been all over the agencies to improve their practices and make them more transparent. Several government agencies have stated that the firms should be regulated.
In addition to government concerns, some investors are in the process of suing Moody's and S&P over whether their ratings of certain securities were so wildly off base that it cost many funds that put money into derivatives billions of dollars.