Fund management giant Vanguard misled investors about its $1 billion ethical fund, the Federal Court has ruled in a major win for the corporate regulator in its crackdown on greenwashing.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission launched legal action against Vanguard, alleging it had not screened all securities in its Ethically Conscious Global Aggregate Bond Index Fund against environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria as it had claimed.

ASIC secured a major court victory after the Federal Court found Vanguard engaged in misleading conduct because its sustainable fund exposed investors to companies with links to fossil fuels, oil and gas exploration.

ASIC secured a major court victory after the Federal Court found Vanguard engaged in misleading conduct because its sustainable fund exposed investors to companies with links to fossil fuels, oil and gas exploration. Credit: AP

Vanguard, which has $11 trillion in assets under management globally, had claimed the index did not invest in bond issuers with significant business activities in a range of industries including fossil fuels.

However, the corporate regulator found the index fund was exposed to activities linked to gas and exploration with 42 companies who issued at least 180 bonds having breached ESG criteria between August 2018 and February 2021. They included companies such as Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline and Chevron Philips Chemical, according to ASIC.

This is the second time ASIC has taken action against Vanguard over greenwashing claims, having slapped the fund manager with a $40,000 fine in 2022 over disclosure documents for another fund that claimed to exclude companies involved in significant tobacco sale.

Loading

“Vanguard, in trade or commerce, engaged in conduct in relation to financial services that was liable to mislead the public as to the nature, characteristics and the suitability for the purpose of those financial services, and thereby contravened … the Australian Securities and Commission Act,” Justice Michael O’Bryan said on Thursday morning.

Vanguard declined to comment after O’Bryan handed down his judgement in Melbourne, and pointed to a statement it issued last year, noting the fund manager had self-identified and self-reported a breach to ASIC.

Vanguard said in a statement: “At the time, the description of the exclusionary screens did not provide a sufficiently detailed explanation that certain debt issuers lacking research coverage were still included in the benchmark. As a result, it is possible the portfolio held exposure to certain securities that may not have been reasonably expected by investors.

Read More: World News | Entertainment News | Celeb News
SMH

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Nuggets Coach Reveals Game Plan Against Lakers Star LeBron James

Getty LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball…

Under-fire Demetriou lasts just 27 seconds in Souths press conference

When asked how he was travelling, Demetriou said: “We’ve had a great…

India conducts first flight of missile that can carry multiple warheads

Delhi has been developing its missile systems for years now, especially as…