Australia’s corporate watchdog is suing a second pension fund over greenwashing, accusing Active Super of misleading customers about barring investments on ethical grounds.
(Bloomberg) — Australia’s corporate watchdog is suing a second pension fund over greenwashing, accusing Active Super of misleading customers about barring investments on ethical grounds.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleges the A$13.5 billion ($8.8 billion) fund held 28 holdings which exposed members to securities it claimed to restrict. They included shares in gambling companies, tobacco, Russian entities, oil tar sands and coal mining.
“We know that funds seek to attract members with promises their investments will not be exposed to certain industries,” ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said in a statement Friday. “Funds must have evidence to back their claims and ensure they are not promising exclusions that they cannot guarantee.”
Active Super was one of two Australian pensions earlier this year that removed ESG risk disclosures from their websites to review the accuracy and reliability of the data, Bloomberg reported in March. The other fund, A$115 billion UniSuper, published a revised version of its climate risk report in May showing it had a bigger carbon footprint than first estimated.
Wary Investors Await Australia’s First Greenwashing Court Fight
Australia’s A$3.5 trillion pension industry has been under pressure to stand up environmental claims in the fast-growing market. In February, ASIC launched its first court action against a pension fund, Mercer Superannuation Australia Ltd., accusing it of misleading investors in the marketing of some sustainable products. The regulator has shown a growing appetite for court action, launching greenwashing action against other large investors including Vanguard.
Active Super said it was co-operating with ASIC’s investigation and welcomed the increased scrutiny on ESG disclosure standards.
“As the matter is before the courts we are unable to comment further,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
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