WASHINGTON - Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox described soon-to-be-proposed rules for boosting rating agency accountability, transparency, and competition yesterday, while members of the Senate Banking Committee gave representatives of the three major raters a rhetorical beating for their role in the subprime mortgage crisis.

Speaking before the committee, Cox said that SEC staff will propose the rules "in the near future" to strengthen accountability by, among other things, allowing market participants to better compare one rater with another. He also said the staff may propose specific prohibitions on certain practices, as well as requirements designed to address conflicts of interests that may arise during the process for rating structured products.

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