Tennessee Sues BlackRock Over Allegedly “False and Deceptive” ESG Claims

In a significant challenge to the incorporation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in the investment process, the Attorney General of the State of Tennessee (AG) has brought a civil enforcement action against BlackRock, Inc., accusing the firm of making misleading disclosures about its ESG practices. “BlackRock committed to global organizations that it would pursue [ESG] aims across all assets under management. And it did. For years, however, BlackRock has misled consumers about the scope and effects of its widespread ESG activity,” the AG claimed on December 18, 2023. BlackRock allegedly engaged in two patterns of deception: First, it falsely claimed that certain funds do not incorporate ESG considerations (non‑ESG funds). Second, it overstated “the extent to which its ESG aims bear on companies’ financial positioning and performance.” This article details the AG’s allegations and charges, with commentary from Lance C. Dial, partner at K&L Gates LLP. See “Money or Ethics: The ESG Investing Debate” (Oct. 13, 2022); and “Misleading ESG Claims Can Result in Significant SEC Penalties” (Jun. 16, 2022).

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