The SEC launches ESG task force for catching climate misconduct in the financial world


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Have you invested in a company that consistently pollutes? The SEC is looking for you. New whistleblower unit seeks to penalise polluters and corporations that deny climate change.

The UN has released a toolkit so bankers can invest in the sea. Good news because the banks who invest in burning the Amazon rainforest are reeling from the bad press. America’s most powerful banking institution, the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced the creation of a Climate and ESG Task Force in the Division of Enforcement. This is hot on the heels of a new UN toolkit which shows bankers how to invest in saving our seas

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (known as The SEC) is a large independent agency of the United States federal government that was created following the stock market crash in the 1920s to protect investors and the national banking system. The primary purpose of the SEC is to enforce the law against market manipulation. But now they are going to help save our planet.

The task force will be led by Kelly L. Gibson, the Acting Deputy Director of Enforcement pictured below, who will oversee a Division-wide effort, with 22 members drawn from the SEC’s headquarters, regional offices, and Enforcement specialized units.

Kelly L. Gibson

Consistent with increasing investor focus and reliance on climate and ESG-related disclosure and investment, the Climate and ESG Task Force will develop initiatives to proactively identify ESG-related misconduct. 

The task force will also coordinate the effective use of Division resources, including through the use of sophisticated data analysis to mine and assess information across registrants, to identify potential violations.

The initial focus will be to identify any material gaps or misstatements in issuers’ disclosure of climate risks under existing rules. The task force will also analyze disclosure and compliance issues relating to investment advisers’ and funds’ ESG strategies. Its work will complement the agency’s other initiatives in this area, including the recent appointment of Satyam Khanna as a Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and ESG. As an integral component of the agency’s efforts to address these risks to investors, the task force will work closely with other SEC Divisions and Offices, including the Divisions of Corporation Finance, Investment Management, and Examinations.

“Climate risks and sustainability are critical issues for the investing public and our capital markets,” said Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee. “The task force announced today will play an important role in enhancing and coordinating the efforts of the Division of Enforcement, the Office of the Whistleblower, and other parts of the agency to bolster the efforts of the Commission as a whole on these vital matters.”

“Proactively addressing emerging disclosure gaps that threaten investors and the market has always been core to the SEC’s mission,” said Acting Deputy Director of Enforcement Kelly L. Gibson, who will lead the task force. “This task force brings together a broad array of experience and expertise, which will allow us to better police the market, pursue misconduct, and protect investors.”

In addition, the Climate and ESG Task Force will evaluate and pursue tips, referrals, and whistleblower complaints on ESG-related issues, and provide expertise and insight to teams working on ESG-related matters across the Division. 

ESG related tips, referrals and whistleblower complaints can be submitted here.

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