Big wealth adviser AMP has hit back at the banking royal commission, strenuously denying it has committed any criminal offence and arguing its failings should be dealt with by ASIC, not the commission.
AMP’s rebuttal of the commission’s actions and line of inquiry by counsel assisting Rowena Orr, QC, are included in a 28-page submission into the company’s alleged misconduct in financial planning and dealings with ASIC that have been aired at recent hearings.
“AMP acknowledges its failings consistent with the evidence which is before the commission, but does not accept all of the open findings which counsel assisting submits should be made,” AMP said in a statement.
“AMP further submits that the proper forum for a determination regarding AMP’s conduct is before ASIC, and any judicial proceeding ASIC may commence.
AMP’s argument is ASIC had already been looking at the matters, which include charging clients “fees for no service”, since 2015 and its investigation is nearing completion.
“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,” the statement read.
The company is particularly upset with the treatment it received from Ms Orr during her forensic examination of executives, as well as her invitation to Commissioner Kenneth Hayne to find AMP had engaged in criminal conduct during the preparation of a report by lawyers Clayton Utz.
“The questions put to [AMP head of advice] Mr [Jack] Regan suggested or implied that both Mr [Craig] Meller, the CEO of AMP, and Ms [Catherine] Brenner, the chairman of AMP, sought to improperly influence the content or findings of the report, particularly in respect of Mr Meller’s role in the conduct being investigated,” AMP said.
“There is no basis for such a finding. The evidence discloses no reasonable basis for a finding that either Mr Meller or Ms Brenner acted inappropriately.”
Both Mr Meller and Ms Brenner left the company with days of the Clayton Utz reporting being raised at the commission.
AMP also said Ms Orr overstated the number of times AMP had mislead ASIC, arguing it was more like seven, rather than the 20 instances raised.
More to come.