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Mercer Super Accused of Greenwashing

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has launched court action against Australian corporate super fund Mercer Superannuation over alleged greenwashing conduct. ASIC claims Mercer made misleading statements about investment options that were marketed as suitable to members as ‘deeply committed to sustainability’ and has commenced civil penalty proceedings in Australia’s Federal Court. The proceeding against Mercer is the first time ASIC has commenced court action after legislative amendments enhanced its powers to take action regarding a broader range of superannuation trustee conduct. ASIC alleges Mercer made statements on its website about seven ‘Sustainable Plus’ investment options offered by the Mercer Super Trust, of which Mercer is the trustee. Exclusions were also stated to apply to companies involved in alcohol production and gambling, but ASIC claims that members who took up the Sustainable Plus options had investments in companies involved in industries the website statements said were excluded. Sarah Court, ASIC’s Deputy Chair, said: “This is the first time ASIC has taken an Australian entity to court regarding alleged greenwashing conduct. It reflects our continuing efforts to ensure sustainability-related claims made by financial institutions are accurate.” 

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