Goldman Sachs subject of SEC investigation over ESG claims

SEC using multiple methods to clamp down on greenwashing

Goldman Sachs is being investigated by US regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), over its ESG funds.

Bloomberg reported the SEC is focused on the mutual-funds business in Goldman Sachs’ asset-management arm and whether claims around ESG on specific funds live up to how they are marketed.

In a statement, Goldman Sachs confirmed the funds at the centre of the probe: “The SEC has been conducting an investigation as to a historical time period for the Goldman Sachs ESG Emerging Markets Equity Fund, Goldman Sachs International Equity ESG Fund and a US Equity ESG separately-managed account offering.

“The assets under supervision for these strategies total approximately $725m as of 30 April 2022. Goldman Sachs is cooperating with the SEC on this matter.”

Reports of the investigation follow news earlier this month of the CEO of German asset manager DWS resigning after the firm’s offices in Frankfurt were raided amid an investigation into greenwashing.

Federal police and officers from German financial regulator BaFin raided the premises and held meetings with staff in the wake of an investigation launched by the regulator last summer into allegations of breaches of ESG requirements.

In further steps to clamp down on greenwashing, the SEC recently proposed two major rule changes — one for investment product names and another for ESG disclosures made by advisers and investment companies.