The Justice Department is seeking to advance a more-than-five-year probe into whether Moody's Investors Service inflated ratings during the U.S. housing boom, according to three people familiar with matter.

The U.S. government is continuing interviews with former Moody's executives on whether the credit rater bent criteria on how to assess structured-finance products to win business from Wall Street banks, according to two people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified because the investigation is ongoing. It's unclear whether the probe will result in a lawsuit, and any action against the company wouldn't be imminent, one of the people said.

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