Deutsche Bank Subsidiary DWS to Pay $25 Million for Anti-Money Laundering Violations and Misstatements Regarding ESG Investments

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged registered investment adviser DWS Investment Management Americas Inc. (DIMA or DWS), a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank AG, in two separate enforcement actions, one addressing its failure to develop a mutual fund Anti-Money Laundering (AML) program, and the other concerning misstatements regarding its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment process. To settle the charges, DIMA agreed to pay a total of $25 million in penalties.

In the AML action, the SEC’s order finds that DIMA caused mutual funds it advised to fail to develop and implement a reasonably designed AML program to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and applicable Financial Crimes Enforcement Network regulations. The order also finds that DIMA caused such mutual funds’ failure to adopt and implement policies and procedures reasonably designed to detect activities indicative of money laundering and to conduct AML training specific to the mutual funds’ business.

“The SEC’s order finds that DWS advised mutual funds with billions of dollars in assets yet failed to ensure that the funds had an AML program tailored to their specific risks, as required by law,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Importantly, those AML obligations require mutual funds to establish and implement individualized programs to detect and prevent money laundering and terrorism financing. I congratulate the Asset Management Unit for bringing this important mutual fund AML enforcement action.”

In the second enforcement action, the SEC’s order finds that DIMA made materially misleading statements about its controls for incorporating ESG factors into research and investment recommendations for ESG integrated products, including certain actively managed mutual funds and separately managed accounts. The order finds that DIMA marketed itself as a leader in ESG that adhered to specific policies for integrating ESG considerations into its investments; however, from August 2018 until late 2021, DIMA failed to adequately implement certain provisions of its global ESG integration policy as it had led clients and investors to believe it would. The order finds that DIMA also failed to adopt and implement policies and procedures reasonably designed to ensure that its public statements about the ESG integrated products were accurate.

“Whether advertising how they incorporate ESG factors into investment recommendations or making any other representation that is material to investors, investment advisers must ensure that their actions conform to their words,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Deputy Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement and head of its Climate and ESG Task Force. “Here, DWS advertised that ESG was in its “DNA,” but, as the SEC’s order finds, its investment professionals failed to follow the ESG investment processes that it marketed.”

In the AML action, the SEC’s order finds that DIMA caused the mutual funds it advised to violate Rule 38a-1 under the Investment Company Act. In the ESG misstatements action, the SEC’s order finds that DIMA violated Sections 206(2) and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act and Rules 206(4)-7 and 206(4)-8 thereunder. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, DIMA agreed to a cease-and-desist order and a $6 million penalty in the AML action; and to a cease-and-desist order, censure, and a $19 million penalty in the ESG misstatements action.

Both investigations were led by the Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit (AMU). The AML investigation was conducted by Janene M. Smith and Victoria Bohannan and supervised by Virginia M. Rosado Desilets, David A. Becker, Corey Schuster, and Andrew Dean, with assistance from Scott Follin, Paul Anderson, Zerubbabel Johnson, Charles Koretke, and Katherine Feld of the Division of Examinations. The ESG misstatements investigation was conducted by HelenAnne Listerman and Jessica Neiterman, with assistance from AMU Industry Expert John Farinacci, and supervised by Brianna Ripa, Robert Baker, Mr. Schuster, and Mr. Dean.


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