New Zealand regulator warns Vanguard over greenwashing penalty

Vanguard was hit with three infringement notices in November in Australia

New Zealand’s financial watchdog has issued a formal warning to Vanguard for failing to disclose details in time regarding infringement notices filed against it in Australia for alleged greenwashing.

On 11 November, Vanguard was hit with three infringement notices by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) for alleged greenwashing.

ASIC was concerned that Vanguard may have misled the public by overstating an exclusion regarding companies involved in tobacco sales.

Vanguard agreed to pay A$39,960 ($26,649) in compliance with the infringement notices. Payment of an infringement notice is not an admission of guilt or liability.

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) said that under the rules, Vanguard was supposed to lodge a notice on the New Zealand Companies Office Disclosure Register by 18 November.

Following intervention from the FMA, Vanguard filed its notice on 2 February, 55 business days after the infringement notices were issued.

“It is important that issuers taking advantage of the MRSO [Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition] regime understand and attend to their obligations. In this case a formal, public warning was appropriate,” said Paul Gregory, FMA executive director of regulatory response.

“Vanguard Australia regrets our oversight in failing to comply with our notification obligations to the Financial Markets Authority of New Zealand late last year,” a spokesperson for Vanguard said.

“We have a strong commitment to compliance and transparency at Vanguard, as well as meeting the expectations of our regulators and investors. These are principles that we continuously reinforce throughout our organisation.”

“We are taking this matter seriously – addressing it through investing in further training and enhanced resourcing, alongside expert support for international regulatory matters.”