WASHINGTON (AP) _ Moody's Investors Service Inc., one of the nation's largest credit-rating agencies, pleaded guilty to destroying documents it was supposed to turn over during an antitrust investigation.

The agency was ordered to pay a $195,000 criminal fine, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Moody's was charged with obstructing justice in connection with a subpoena it received in 1996 from the department's antitrust division. The Justice Department was investigating anticompetitive practices in the bond-rating services industry. The investigation was closed in 1999.

An employee of Moody's destroyed documents that were requested in the subpoena. Moody's executives knew, or should have known, about the documents' destruction, the Justice Department said, but the company told investigators it had turned over all relevant documents before it notified them about the incident.

``This charge demonstrates that the Department views any attempt to avoid compliance with a civil investigation demand as a very serious matter,'' said John M. Nannes, acting assistant attorney general for the antitrust division.