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ASIC wins greenwashing case against Vanguard

The Australian federal court has found Vanguard Australia guilty of greenwashing with misleading ESG claims about exclusionary screens in one of its index funds.

Tuesday, April 2nd 2024, 9:26AM

by Andrea Malcolm

On March 8th, Vanguard admitted to engaging in conduct that was liable to mislead the public and that it had made representations that were false or misleading.

On March 28th, a federal court judge found that Vanguard contravened the ASIC Act numerous times when it made false or misleading representations about the ESG exclusionary screens applied to its Vanguard Ethically Conscious Global Aggregate Bond Index Fund.

Public misleading statements were made in a product disclosure statement, a media release, on Vanguard’s website, in a Finance News Network interview on YouTube and as part of a presentation at a Finance News Network fund manager event.

The fund used the Bloomberg Barclays MSCI Global Aggregate SRI Exclusions Float Adjusted Index. Vanguard had claimed the index excluded only companies with significant business activities in a range of industries, including those involving fossil fuels, but has admitted that a significant proportion of securities in the index and the fund were from issuers that were not researched or screened against applicable ESG criteria.

ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court said, “By Vanguard’s own admission, it misled investors on a number of its claims.

“In this case, Vanguard promised its investors and potential investors that the product would be screened to exclude bond issuers with significant business activities in certain industries, including fossil fuels, when this was not always the case.

“As ASIC’s first greenwashing court outcome, the case shows our commitment to taking on misleading marketing and greenwashing claims made by companies in the financial services industry. It sends a strong message to companies making sustainable investment claims that they need to reflect the true position.”

The court will consider the appropriate penalty at a further hearing listed for1 August 2024.

Tags: Vanguard

« NZ scopes a green taxonomy to provide a common language on sustainable finance FMA wants feedback on green bonds »

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ANZ 8.64 7.74 7.39 7.25
ANZ Blueprint to Build 7.39 - - -
ANZ Good Energy - - - 1.00
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BNZ - Green Home Loan top-ups - - - 1.00
BNZ - Mortgage One 8.69 - - -
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China Construction Bank - 7.09 6.75 6.49
China Construction Bank Special - - - -
Co-operative Bank - First Home Special - 6.79 - -
Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 8.40 6.99 6.79 6.65
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Co-operative Bank - Standard 8.40 7.49 7.29 7.15
Credit Union Auckland 7.70 - - -
First Credit Union Special - 7.45 7.35 -
First Credit Union Standard 8.50 7.99 7.85 -
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Heartland Bank - Reverse Mortgage - - - -
Heretaunga Building Society 8.90 7.60 7.40 -
HSBC Premier 8.59 - - -
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC 7.85 7.05 6.69 6.59
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Kainga Ora - First Home Buyer Special - - - -
Kiwibank 8.50 7.99 7.79 7.55
Kiwibank - Offset 8.50 - - -
Kiwibank Special - 6.99 6.79 6.65
Liberty 8.59 8.69 8.79 8.94
Nelson Building Society 9.00 7.75 7.35 -
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Resimac - LVR < 80% 8.84 8.09 7.59 7.29
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Resimac - Specialist Clear (Alt Doc) - - 8.99 -
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Westpac 8.64 7.89 7.35 7.25
Westpac Choices Everyday 8.74 - - -
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Westpac Special - 7.29 6.75 6.65
Median 8.64 7.21 7.29 6.65

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