The European Union's markets watchdog has fined credit rating agency Fitch a record €5.13m for breaching rules aimed at avoiding conflicts of interest.
The European Securities and Markets Authority said that between June 2013 and April 2018, 20% of Fitch subsidiaries in Britain, France and Spain were indirectly owned by an individual through a French entity.
At the same time the shareholder, which ESMA does not name, was sitting on boards of three entities being rated by the three subsidiaries of Fitch, the bloc's third biggest rating agency.
Fitch said none of the breaches impacted the outcome of its ratings, and its interpretation of the EU regulations on disclosing the identity of shareholders was made in good faith.
"We no longer have single individual shareholders who may be in a position to sit on the boards of rated entities," Fitch said in a statement.
Fitch is owned by US publisher Hearst after buying stakes from France's Fimalac. It is one of the "Big Three" credit rating agencies, along with Standard & Poor's and Moody's that dominate the sector globally.
ESMA authorises and regulates ratings agencies in the EU.
It said its fine reflects measures voluntarily taken by the three Fitch subsidiaries to ensure similar infringements could not be committed in the future.
Fitch accounts for 15.1% of the EU's market for credit ratings, third after S&P with 46.3% and Moody's with 32%.
ESMA fined Fitch €1.4m in 2016 after finding that some senior analysts at the agency transmitted information about some sovereign ratings to senior people in a Fitch parent company before it was made public.