AMP says there was no crime

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  • AMP has “strenuously” denied any criminality, as suggested in the financial services royal commission.
  • The financial services giant today made a detailed submission to the commission about the fees for no service issue.
  • AMP acknowledges its failings but does not accept all of the open findings made by counsel assisting, Rowena Orr.

AMP has rejected an allegation by the financial services royal commission that it committed a criminal offence in the fee for no service scandal.

The financial services giant today made a lengthy submission to the royal commission about 25 changes to a draft report by Clayton Utz about the practice of charging customers for financial advice they didn’t receive.

“AMP strenuously denies the allegation by Counsel Assisting (Rowena Orr) that it is open to find that it has committed a criminal offence in providing to (corporate regulator) ASIC in October 2017 a report prepared by Clayton Utz,” AMP said in its submission.

In hearings last month, the royal commission lost count at the number of times AMP made false or misleading statements to ASIC.

Orr, senior counsel assisting the commission, told the commission that senior managers at AMP knew that charging fees for no service was a breach of the law but this continued even after AMP had reported it to ASIC.

She also said that changes made to the report written by law firm Clayton Utz — which appeared aimed at limiting findings about the knowledge of senior executives of the fee-for-no-service — amounted to “misconduct”.

AMP Chairman Catherine Brenner and CEO Craig Meller both resigned after AMP admitted in the commission to making the false or misleading statements to ASIC.

Today, AMP says it takes responsibility for its past failings, and has taken, and continues to take, action to ensure these don’t recur, including enhancements to advice systems, processes and governance, and the identification and remediation of affected customers.

“AMP acknowledges its failings consistent with the evidence before the commission but does not accept all of the open findings which Counsel Assisting submits should be made,” the company said.

In today’s submission to the royal commission, AMP says the Clayton Utz report is “uncompromisingly direct and comprehensive” and the result of multiple employee interviews.

“It can only have been of assistance to ASIC in its investigation, and to Counsel Assisting (Orr) in preparing cross-examination.

“It contains serious adverse findings, including a number of inaccurate or misleading statements to ASIC which form the basis of Counsel Assisting’s submission on that topic.”

AMP points to the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission that state the commissioner is not required to inquire into a particular matter if he is satisfied this is being, or will be, appropriately dealt with by another inquiry or investigation or a criminal or civil proceedings.

The company says the issues raised by the case study in the royal commission concerns matters the subject of an ongoing ASIC investigation.

“That investigation commenced in 2015 and has involved compulsory examination of numerous AMP current and former employees and the production of hundreds of thousands of documents to ASIC,” says AMP.

“As AMP understands it, ASIC was nearing completion of that investigation at the time the Royal Commission hearings commenced.

“Given the seriousness of the matters being investigated, AMP fully expects that ASIC will deal with them in an appropriate manner consistent with ASIC’s enforcement priorities, and under a proper process, with affected parties having had an opportunity to be heard.”

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