Past international examples of consequences from ESG non-compliance

Category Company Offence Repercussions
Environmental “Dieselgate” Volkswagen intentionally programmed its diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing, causing the vehicles’ output to meet US standards during regulatory testing, while they emitted up to 40 times more emissions in real-world driving. Volkswagen deployed this software in about 11 million cars worldwide in model years 2009 through 2015 In September 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen. Regulators in multiple countries began to investigate the company and its stock price fell in value by a third in the days immediately after the news. Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned, and the head of brand development, Audi research and development head, and Porsche research and development head were suspended. As of 1 June 2020, the scandal had cost VW $33.3 billion in fines, penalties, financial settlements, and buyback costs. Various government and civil actions are currently undergoing in the U.S., as well as the European Union, where most of the affected vehicles are located
Social A methane gas leak reduces oxygen levels to deadly levels and eventually ignites. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released its report in December 2011, concluding that flagrant safety violations contributed to the explosion. Twenty-nine out of thirty-one miners at the site were killed. Alpha Natural Resources, which had bought Massey Energy in 2011, settled its corporate criminal liabilities with the U.S. DoJ/Attorney for $209 million. The settlement comprised $46.5 million in restitution payments, $34.8 million in fines for safety citations, $48 million for a health and safety research and development trust fund, and $80 million for safety improvements. The restitution payments are $1.5 million to each of the two survivors and the families of each of the 29 fatal casualties.
Governance A report by a bankruptcy examiner drew attention to the use of accounting maneuvers to boost the bank’s apparent financial position. It was discovered that the Bank had hidden over $50 billion in loans, with the loans disguised as sales using accounting loopholes. Charges were also filed against the bank’s auditors, Ernst & Young, that alleged that the firm “substantially assisted… a massive accounting fraud” by approving the accounting treatment. Most of its clients left the Lehman Brothers, its share price plummeted and credit rating agencies devaluated its assets. The bank filed for bankruptcy in the middle of the 2008. Its collapse was the signature moment of the global financial crisis. Lehman Brothers was the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States, and its collapse meant its employees lost jobs