Friday, 7 June 2024

Australian Super Fund Found Guilty Of Greenwashing

by BD Banks

Australian Super Fund Found Guilty Of Greenwashing

Active Super professed that it does not invest in organisations that notably threaten the environment. Based on the ASIC’s press release, Active Super had investments in gambling, oil tar sands, and coal mining companies at the time it made such marketing statements.

The firms included SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd (SKC.AX) and Pointsbet Holdings Ltd, ConocoPhillips (COP), Shell Plc (SHEL), Whitehaven Coal Limited (WHC.AX) and Coronado Global Resources (CRN.AX).

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Following the invasion of Ukraine, the fund allegedly indicated any Russian investments were off the table but was found to have invested in Gazprom PJSC and Sberbank of Russia. The court denied Super Active’s claim that reasonable customers can distinguish between owning shares in a company and indirect exposure through a combined fund. Justice O’Callaghan reportedly said:

… consumer would not draw that distinction … because there is nothing in the Impact Reports or on the LGSS website that suggests that the claims that there was, for example, “No way” Active Super would invest members funds in gambling, tobacco and so on … .

The judge further pointed out that terms such as “not invest”, “no way”, and “eliminate” sent a clear and unambiguous message to fund members. Super Active has about $13.5bn in superannuation assets and roughly 89,000 members as of 1 July 2023.

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