The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Australia’s corporate watchdog, fined Tlou Energy [TLOU:LN] USD53,280 for greenwashing, or exaggerated claims about environmentally friendly initiatives, as reported by Reuters on October 27. This was the first time the regulator took action to punish greenwashing. Specifically, Tlou Energy claimed its electricity would be carbon-neutral, and that its gas power generation would be low-emission. The ASIC identified the claims as making alleged false or misleading sustainability-related statements. In response, the energy company insisted that it did not breach any rules, but still agreed to pay the fine to “bring this matter to an end and focus the company‘s resources on the development of its power projects”.
The ASIC vows to crack down on greenwashing as misleading claims could undermine trust amid consumers’ growing interest in sustainable products. According to ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court, if enterprises want to promote their sustainability and green credentials, they must make sure they can support those statements and have a reasonable basis to do so. Court also disclosed that the ASIC is investigating some listed entities, super funds, and management funds over their green credentials claims. In June, the ASIC published guidance (INFO 271) for entities offering sustainability-related financial products to curb misrepresentations in promotional material, disclosure statements, and offerings that could be considered “greenwashing.”, as a supplement to the Australian company and competition law.