ASIC Proceedings for Greenwashing

Active Super who is stated to be one of Australia’s leading responsible super funds has become a party to civil penalty proceedings commenced by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for allegedly greenwashing their Impact Report.

The term ‘greenwashing’ is used to describe organisations that spend significant funds and time on marketing themselves as environmentally friendly than on actually taking steps to minimising their environmental impact. It is a marketing strategy used by organisations to show and persuade the public that the organisations business practices and policies are environmentally sound. They are also alleged to have made misrepresentations regarding environmental and social impacts and governance.

The proceedings are being heard in the Federal Court and they allege that Active Super misled the market and consumers by making claims that it was an ethical and responsible superannuation fund. Recently, there has been a crack down by ASIC on numerous organisations for greenwashing with legal claims commencing against EnergyAustralia and Vanguard and even Etihad who faced a complaint by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission instead.

Active Super currently has an estimated 89,000 members with $13.5 billion superannuation assets. They stated on their website that Active Super had eliminated investments that pose too great of a risk to the environment and the wider community such as the manufacturing of tobacco, gambling, and oil tar sands. They also stated that they included Russia in the list of excluded countries after the invasion of Ukraine was announced. As such, ASIC is now claiming that Active Super has exposed its 89,000 members to investments which it advertised they had restricted or eliminated altogether.

From February 2021 to June 2023, Active Super is reportedly alleged to have 28 holdings, both directly and indirectly, in organisations that were involved in tobacco manufacturing, gambling, coal mining, oil tar sands and Russian entities.  This is why ASIC is now seeking declarations, adverse publicity orders, pecuniary penalties and an injunction against Active Super.

If you or someone you know wish to discuss this issue further, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8999 9809.

Freedman & Gopalan Solicitors
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