Environmental activists now masquerading as financial advisors

August 10th, 2016

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s recently released ‘Investor Alert’ on Buru Energy’s Tight Gas Stimulation Project sails very close to the wind on providing financial advice without the appropriate qualifications.

The misleading ten-page report, aimed at discouraging genuine investors from investing in the Western Australian natural gas explorer and producer, highlights the dangers of an environmental activist masquerading as a financial advisor.

Let’s not forget that the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) requires companies to hold a Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) to provide financial product advice to clients.

Since when were misinformed and biased activists able or qualified to give financial advice?

They aren’t and that’s where the problem lies – should adding a heavily qualified disclaimer be enough to cover the fact that this is disingenuous at best, and misleading at worst.

The  disclaimer at the end of their ‘report’ ensures they will avoid a look-in from the regulator.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of references used to substantiate the activist’s report come from news articles and other activist websites. While there are a few company announcements in the mix, the information has been cherry picked to suit the claim.

A call to action in the report by activists stating that Buru Energy’s Laurel Formation Tight Gas Pilot Exploration Program should be subject to a “full and thorough assessment by the WA Environment Protection Authority (EPA), to the level of Public Environmental Review (PER)”.

The EPA’s position clearly states that “[it] considers that this small scale, “proof of concept”, exploration drilling proposal is unlikely to have a significant effect on the environment.”

If the leading Government agency for environmental protection is of the informed position that the company’s exploration activities do not require a PER, then it is confusing that an uninformed, unspecialised activist group views it so differently.

The activist group has created a false impression with its unjustified claim that Buru Energy’s project ought to be subject to a PER – something regulatory authorities have already implicitly rejected.

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