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Alternative Market Briefing

Other Voices: The SEC gets tough on ESG funds

Thursday, April 22, 2021

By: Kaela Colwell, Kelley Howes

On April 9, 2021, the SEC's Division of Examinations (EXAMS) published a Risk Alert summarizing its observations from recent examinations of investment advisers, registered investment companies, and private funds engaged in ESG investing. The Risk Alert is the latest in a series of announcements from the regulator that demonstrate its focus on investor protection in connection with climate and ESG investing.

On March 4, 2021, the SEC announced the launch of the Climate and ESG Task Force within the Division of Enforcement. The task force is led by Kelly L. Gibson, Acting Deputy Director of Enforcement, and is comprised of 22 members from the Enforcement Division's specialized units, the SEC's headquarters, and its regional offices.

  • On March 3, 2021, EXAMS released its 2021 Examination Priorities, which emphasize an enhanced focus on climate-related risks.

  • Notably, the task force has committed to working closely with the Division of Corporation Finance, the Division of Investment Management, and EXAMS to access information across SEC registrants for purposes of identifying potential regulatory violations and insights. The task force is also encouraging individuals to report compliance issues to the Office of the Whistleblower and intends to work with the Office of Market Intelligence to triage climate and ESG-related complaints, tips, and referrals.

While it is too early to observe the modus operand......................

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