Lawsuit Against JBS Should Include Company’s Sustainability Linked Bonds

On March 1st, several outlets broke the news that New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against meatpacking giant JBS, a week after JBS announced a further delay to its planned listing on the New York Stock Exchange, amidst opposition. The lawsuit alleges that JBS, the world’s largest meat packer, has been lying to consumers about its environmental impact, climate goals, and plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 to boost sales. If found liable, JBS could face fines and be required to repay income received based on deceptive sustainability claims. 

JBS has also abused its status as a “committed” company with SBTi within its ‘green bond’ prospectus. It registered at SBTi as “committed” in June 201, after announcing its 2040 net zero pledge. However, it has still not had its targets and plans officially validated and made public by SBTi as of February 2024.

Research from Forests & Finance has found that since April 2021, JBS has issued three Sustainability Linked Bonds, raising the company USD 3.5 billion in capital. 

“The New York Attorney General should extend its lawsuit to include JBS’s financial facilitators who issued these so-called Sustainable bonds. Financial powerhouses such as Mizuho, Santander and Barclays aided the fraudulent claims of JBS, raking in huge profits through their bond issuance services in 2021. “Where is the accountability for the financial sector profiting from deforestation and climate chaos?” said Tom Picken, Forests & Finance Campaign Director, Rainforest Action Network.

As of February 2024,  Fidelity Investments, Vanguard, and BlackRock, were among the top identified investors in these sustainability-linked bonds. US-based investors accounted for 80% of the identified bond holders by value.

As of February 2024, top JBS Sustainability Linked Bond holders are:

Investor ParentInvestor CountrySum of USD mln
Fidelity InvestmentsUnited States259
Northwestern MutualUnited States159
VanguardUnited States153
BlackRockUnited States133
Franklin ResourcesUnited States103
Prudential Financial (US)United States98
Fidelity InternationalBermuda94
Manulife FinancialCanada91
Principal Financial GroupUnited States79
The HartfordUnited States79
Capital GroupUnited States69
Forests & Finance research

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