The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) Australia’s corporate, markets, and financial services regulator, announced today that it issued an infringement notice to superannuation fund promoter, Future Super, over alleged greenwashing by the company in a social media post.
According to ASIC, a Facebook post by Future Super that stated “‘Naysayers don’t join together and move nearly $400 million out of fossil fuels,” may have overstated the environmental impact of the fund, which has approximately $400 million in assets under management, by suggesting that all of the funds were initially invested in fossil fuels.
ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said:
“The post on the Future Super Fund Facebook page overstated the positive environmental impact of the Fund and we were concerned it may be misleading to investors and potential investors.”
The infringement notice follows a statement last year by ASIC Chair Joseph Longo, warning providers of investment funds and financial products that the regulator was watching out for misleading sustainability claims, and that it was providing guidance for fund managers and issuers to keep clear of greenwashing. In February, the regulator launched its first greenwashing court action against Marsh McLennan company Mercer Superannuation for allegedly making false claims about some of its sustainable investment options, and ASIC has also issued infringement notices in response to concerns about alleged greenwashing to several companies and investment firms, including Vanguard Investments Australia and Black Mountain Energy.
As part of a series of government initiatives aimed at supporting the growth of the sustainable finance market, Australia’s Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced last month that the government will provide over $4 million in funding to ASIC to expand its surveillance and enforcement functions to crack down on greenwashing.
“This action should send a message to the financial services industry that ASIC is continuing to focus on greenwashing broadly, in statements to the market, disclosure documents, marketing material and on social media. Industry using social media to promote green claims are not immune from ASIC action.
“We expect the industry to be able to stand by their sustainability statements and back these up with evidence.”