Australia's financial regulator reviewed the ESG credentials and claims of more than 100 public companies, managed funds and super funds, making 35 interventions over greenwashing in the process, and warned that superannuation funds will come under further scrutiny.
The Australian Securities & Investments Commission said in a report published Wednesday that it had undertaken "both reactive and proactive surveillance in relation to greenwashing" since publishing an information sheet in June 2022 on avoiding greenwashing when offering or promoting sustainability-related products. The report covered the period July 1, 2022, to March 31.
ASIC looked at disclosure documents, product disclosure statements, advertisements, websites and other market disclosures. It identified a number of concerns, including potential misleading marketing and/or greenwashing, and intervened to prevent harm to investors and to deter greenwashing misconduct, the report said.
Between July 1, 2022, and March 31, ASIC achieved 23 total corrections to disclosures; issued 11 infringement notices; and launched civil penalty proceedings against one super fund.
Among its findings, ASIC it identified instances when entities described operations, projects or products as carbon-neutral, clean or green "when there appeared to be no reasonable basis for these claims."
ASIC said it would continue to focus on identifying and preventing harm arising from misleading marketing and greenwashing, and "will be progressing our surveillance on the superannuation fund sector and the wholesale green bond market, and will continue our surveillance of the managed fund and corporate sectors."
The regulator is investigating a number of entities over suspected greenwashing, and anticipates "further enforcement action." ASIC's report added that the regulator encourages "issuers and advisers to consider this report when preparing disclosures," the report said.