The NYTimes.com is reporting that Standard & Poors received a “Wells” notice from the SEC. A Wells notice is apparently just a letter from the SEC to say hi and to let a company know that it is under investigation. Such a notice does not mean that there are currently or will ever be any official charges.
This “just having a look around” by the SEC is apparently related to a mortgage security S&P rated in 2007.
In S&P’s defense they had no incentive to give companies/securities high ratings, other than for the fact that client companies might stop using S&P if they received bad ratings. But I ramble, as such a scenario would mean that Standard & Poors was only in it for the money.