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June, 2024

ASX-listed fertiliser company fined $37,560 by ASIC over greenwashing in regulator’s latest win

Fertoz Limited, an ASX-listed company specialising in fertiliser mining, manufacturing and supply, has paid $37,560 to comply with two infringement notices issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for greenwashing.

The regulatory body alleged Fertoz made false or misleading statements regarding its Reforestation Project in the Philippines. Fertoz had previously stated that the project would secure an offtake partner or funding by the end of 2023, and begin planting in Q4 2023. However, ASIC alleged these statements were false or misleading as Fertoz had ended funding discussions with two prospective offtake partners in April and August 2023, had not signed any letters of intent or non-disclosure agreements, and had not secured any funding necessary for the project.

“This case is another example of ASIC enforcement action where we consider there to be inaccurate or misleading statements made in sustainability-related claims. Greenwashing continues to be in our sights and remains an enforcement priority,” ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court stated.

The payment of the infringement notices on 21 June 2024 does not constitute an admission of guilt or liability.

As part of ASIC’s Sustainable Finance enforcement priority, the regulator has issued 17 other infringement notices in relation to alleged environmental, social and governance (ESG) misconduct.

In March 2024, ASIC won its first greenwashing civil penalty action against Vanguard Investments Australia. In June 2024, it was successful in action taken in the Federal Court against Active Super, which found the superannuation fund’s trustee contravened the law in connection with various misleading representations concerning its ESG credentials. ASIC is currently awaiting the outcome of a civil penalty action before the Federal Court against Mercer Super for alleged greenwashing conduct.