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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

We previously blogged about the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) brining a case against Vanguard Australia alleging greenwashing in Vanguard’s investment products. Recently a court has ruled in ASIC’s favor finding the asset manager guilty of greenwashing. ESG Today reported on the case stating:

“Vanguard’s ESG fund, the Vanguard Ethically Conscious Global Aggregate Bond Index Fund, was launched in 2018, and designed to offer investors with exposure to international fixed income investments, screened to exclude companies with activities related to areas including fossil fuels, alcohol and tobacco…

In the suit, however, ASIC alleged that ESG research was not conducted over a significant proportion of the bond issuers in the fund, exposing investors to investments with ties to fossil fuels, including issuers such as Chevron Phillips Chemical and Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline, among others.”

One of Vanguard’s investment managers admitted to making false and misleading claims about the fund during a hearing. This is yet another example of financial regulators cracking down on greenwashing and follows similar actions brought by the U.S. SEC’s Climate-related taskforce last year. While damages and penalties will not be determined until August, the verdict alone shows increasing regulatory risks associated with financial greenwashing.

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile