Australia issues another fine for greenwashing

The fine for Black Mountain Energy follows on the heels of ASIC's first enforcement action in October last year

Australia has picked up where it left off by issuing a fine against a listed company for greenwashing only a few months after the securities regulator announced the first infringement notice for the practice.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) said last week that Black Mountain Energy, an ASX-listed resources company, paid A$39,960 ($27,592.2) to comply with three infringement notices in relation to concerns about alleged false or misleading sustainability-related statements made to the stock exchange between 23 December 2021 and 8 September 2022.

The penalties were in relation to statements made by Black Mountain Energy in three ASX announcements in which it said that it was creating a natural gas development project with ‘net-zero carbon emissions’ and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with Project Valhalla would be net zero.

ASIC said that the company did not have a reasonable basis to make the claims.

An infringement notice is not an admission of guilt or liability, a fact that Black Mountain Energy noted in its stock exchange statement.

The penalties come after ASIC issued its first ever fine for greenwashing only in October against listed energy company Tlou Energy.

Several market observers previously told ESG Clarity that they expected regulators in Australia, including ASIC, to take more enforcement action this year. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has listed greenwashing as its number one enforcement priority, for example.