By Eric Stock
CHICAGO - Illinois is joining in a federal lawsuit against one of the world's most influential financial companies.
The Justice Department is going after Standard & Poor's in civil court. The government says their ratings for mortgage-backed securities contributed to the financial meltdown several years ago and cost investors billions of dollars.
The company is basically accused of inflating its ratings of bundles of subprime mortgages in order to make them more attractive to investors. The government says the company gave most of those questionable investments triple-A ratings, even though they knew those investments were very risky.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued S and P last year alleging many of the same complaints.
"Standard & Poor's was a trigger for the destruction of our economy," Madigan said. "While the big banks and lenders built mortgage-backed bombs, it was S&P's faulty ratings that detonated them."
That case hasn't been resolved.
Thirteen other states have joined in the federal lawsuit.
S&P denies any wrongdoing and says the suit has no merit whatsoever.
Metro News Service contributed to this report.