PwC was providing guidance to DWS on its sustainability credentials while investigating greenwashing at the German asset manager.
DWS’s former head of sustainability, Desiree Fixler, accused her former employers of using botched environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics, according to the Financial Times.
The concerns were raised in March to chairman of DWS Karl von Rohr. In an analysts’ call on Friday, Christian Sewing, chief executive of German bank Deustche Bank, DWS’s largest shareholder, said discussions about claims of greenwashing were “noises”.
DWS gave PwC employee Martin Weirich the remit of investigating Fixler’s claims, while at the same time, a separate PwC team was advising the asset manager on how it can achieve its goal being net zero by 2050.
The probe was launched days after DWS received the complaints, the firm said.
The revelations throw the independence of the greenwashing accusations into disrepute. The FT reports DWS paid PwC €300,000 for sustainability consulting.
The investigation centred on whether DWS had overstated the volume of assets that had been examined for their ESG credentials and whether its sustainability interrogation process was up to scratch.
PwC found that the ESG classification was based on a formal process, but the numbers of assets examined were challenged by KPMG, DWS’ auditor.
In a 42-page report outlining the findings of the probe, PwC said it “could not identify substance within the allegations”. The Big Four auditor also dismissed Fixler’s claim DWS sacked her for raising concerns internally.
PwC did not approach Fixler during the investigation, she claims.
DWS said it “stands by its disclosures in its annual reports. DWS firmly rejects the unfounded allegations being made by a former employee.”