Fitch Ratings has placed the ratings of First Bancorp on Rating Watch Negative, citing an announcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is conducting an informal inquiry of First Bancorp in connection with mortgage loan accounting.Fitch said the SEC inquiry is related to First Bancorp's disclosure Aug. 10 that it is reviewing its accounting for mortgage loans purchased from two other financial institutions from 2000 to 2004. First Bancorp is also "evaluating the impact of these issues on the company's internal controls and procedures, including its internal control over financial reporting," the rating agency said. Fitch said the company also announced that it won't be able to file its SEC Form 10-Q for the second quarter on a timely basis. "The untimely filing of financials by [First Bancorp] could trigger a covenant default in a few of the company's funding facilities, causing liquidity to be pressured," the rating agency said.

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