Peters & Peters

ASIC sues Mercer for greenwashing

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Key facts:

The ASIC launched its first court action for greenwashing, commencing civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against Mercer Superannuation (Australia) Limited. Mercer is alleged to have made misleading statements on its website about seven “Sustainable Plus” investment options that it offered as part of its Mercer Super Trust of which it is the trustee.

These investment options were marketed as being suitable for members who “are deeply committed to sustainability” on the basis that they excluded investments in companies involved in carbon-intensive fossil fuels, alcohol production and gambling (among others).

However, the ASIC alleged the ‘Sustainable Plus’ investment options also had investments in companies involved in industries which directly contradicted the website’s claims. These included companies involved in the extraction or sale of carbon intensive fossil fuels, companies involved in the production of alcohol and companies involved in gambling.

The matter was listed for hearing in December 2023, with judgment reserved.

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