AMP rejects criminal claim, defends board

May 04, 2018

AMP "strenuously denies" allegations it may have committed a criminal offence by misleading regulators about fees for services its customers never received.

Australian Conservatives leader Senator Cory Bernardi supported the Banking Royal Commission after the Commonwealth Bank blatantly ignored the rules around money laundering for  years. The evidence presented to the Royal Commission so far presents compelling evidence for major reform.

The Advertiser reports that wealth management giant AMP has revealed almost 16,000 of its customers paid fees for financial advice they didn't get.

A report on the fees scandal prepared by law firm Clayton Utz, which AMP billed as independent, was subjected to AMP board review before it was handed to the regulator last October.

AMP said "there is no evidence" to suggest that the board, including former chairman Catherine Brenner and former chief executive Craig Meller, acted inappropriately in relation to the preparation of the Clayton Utz report.

"AMP strenuously denies the allegation by Counsel Assisting that it is open to find that it has committed a criminal offence in providing to ASIC in October 2017 a report prepared by Clayton Utz," AMP said on Friday.

The company rejected claims more than 700 emails went between AMP and Clayton Utz about the content of the draft report saying it had been "overstated".

It also revealed that 15,712 customers since 2008 had paid financial advice fees despite not receiving advice.

AMP claimed in most cases fee charges were the result of administrative error, while a minority were cases where the charging of fees was authorised.

Last week senior counsel assisting the commission Rowena Orr QC outlined a series of possible misconduct findings against AMP for misleading ASIC, including breaches that carry criminal penalties.

She said AMP and its advice businesses misled ASIC 20 times about the nature and extent of its fees-for-no-service practice.

AMP on Friday said while its misrepresentation to ASIC is "plainly unacceptable", there were only seven misrepresentations, not 20.

While Senator Cory Bernardi says he will await the Royal Commission findings before passing judgement he sees the breakup of banking and financial services arms of financial institutions as being inevitable because of the conflicts of interest the Royal Commission has exposed.

To read Simone Ziaziaris' full article, click here.

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