New Zealand's markets regulator has issued a formal warning to Vanguard's Australian business for missing a deadline to disclose greenwashing fines by two months.
U.S. asset manager Vanguard was fined in Australia late last year for incorrectly stating that three of its funds excluded exposure to firms involved in tobacco sales. As the same products were also offered to New Zealand investors, the firm was required to formally notify the country's Financial Markets Authority within five working days, according to a statement from the regulator Wednesday.
It instead took Vanguard 55 business days to file the correct documents and after an intervention by the FMA, the regulator said, adding that Vanguard failed to meet its regulatory obligations or have adequate processes in place.
"Vanguard Australia regrets our oversight in failing to comply with our notification obligations to the Financial Markets Authority," a Melbourne-based spokesperson for Vanguard said in an emailed statement. "We are taking this matter seriously — addressing it through investing in further training, enhanced resourcing, alongside expert support for international regulatory matters."
Regulators around the globe are clamping down on claims tied to investments sold under environmental, social and governance criteria. The Australian Securities & Investment Commission has so far issued a total of A$140,000 ($94,000) in fines related to greenwashing, including the Vanguard infringement, and recently launched its first such court action against pension fund Mercer Superannuation.
The Vanguard funds were offered to New Zealand investors through the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition program, which allows Australian fund managers to operate in the neighboring country.
"The FMA considers a warning will reinforce to overseas issuers offering investment products in New Zealand under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition regime that they must ensure they are complying with the New Zealand regime as well as the regime in their local jurisdiction," the FMA said in the statement.