Commonwealth of Virginia
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Jason S. Miyares
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Attorney General Miyares Warns Asset Managers Over ESG Investments
RICHMOND, VA – Attorney General Jason Miyares and 20 other state attorneys general warned more than 50 of the nation's largest asset managers about Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investments being made with Americans' hard-earned money as annual shareholders' meetings begin for many public companies.
In an open letter sent Thursday to 53 asset managers with $40 billion or more in assets, the attorneys general site concerns that asset managers may be pushing the political goals of Climate Action 100+ and the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative rather than acting in the best financial interests of their clients, which is their fiduciary duty.
"Asset managers have a responsibility and a legal obligation to make decisions dependent on the best financial interests of their clients, not unelected ESG advocates trying to achieve political gains at the cost of everyday Americans,” said Attorney General Miyares.
The coalition reminds asset managers in the letter that they have extensive legal duties to their clients under federal and state law to act as a fiduciary to their clients which many appear to be disregarding in favor of their commitments to the Net Zero Managers Alliance and Climate action 100+, which push ESG initiatives.
In addition, the coalition note that during the 2023 proxy season asset managers will need "to choose between their legal duties to focus on financial return, and the policy goals of ESG activists” as banks, insurers, and utility and energy companies are all facing proposals from climate activists affiliated with organizations asset managers may have joined. Additionally, abortion and political spending and race and gender quotas may also be included in numerous proposals this year but are not financially justified – and ESG aims themselves are not valid defenses.
"We will continue to evaluate activity in this area in line with our ongoing investigations into potential unlawful coordination and other violations that may stem from the commitments you and others have made as part of Climate Action 100+, Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, or the like,” the attorneys general warned.
Read the letter HERE.