Catherine Brenner is under pressure to follow Craig Meller’s lead and resign. (AAP: David Moir)
The board of AMP is set to meet as early as today, as the embattled chair of the company, Catherine Brenner, faces further pressure to resign.
Ms Brenner would be the second senior executive to head for the door at AMP after damaging revelations surfaced at the banking royal commission, which last week saw AMP recommended for criminal breaches of the Corporations Act.
The commission heard AMP misled the corporate regulator ASIC on 20 occasions about the company’s deliberate practice of charging customers for financial advice they were never going to receive.
The company has so far refunded $4.7 million to some of the 15,000 customers who were charged fees for advice that was never given.
Counsel assisting the commissioner, Rowena Orr QC, said AMP’s attitude to ASIC was not honest or forthright, and showed it was deliberately trying to mislead the regulator.
But the possibility of criminal charges relates to a so-called independent review into AMP by law firm Clayton Utz.
Ms Orr told the commission that AMP’s characterisation of that review as independent was “at least inaccurate, if not misleading”.
The commission heard AMP was given 25 drafts of the Clayton Utz report, and senior executives, including Ms Brenner, made alterations to exonerate the company’s former chief executive, Craig Meller.
Mr Meller resigned last week, although he was already due to leave the company later this year.
Both the Australian Shareholders’ Association and the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors have called for Ms Brenner to resign, and other AMP directors to also head for the door.
Ms Brenner’s directorships at Boral and Coca-Cola Amatil may also be in question following the revelations at the royal commission hearings.
Whatever happens, AMP is facing a firey annual general meeting on May 10.
Its share price is trading at just above $4, having fallen by more than a quarter over the past two months.
‘Do the right thing’
Politicians have joined the calls from investors for Ms Brennan’s resignation, with Labor’s finance spokesman, Jim Chalmers, telling Sky News that Ms Brenner must go.
“Catherine Brenner should take responsibility for these extraordinary scandals at AMP and do the right thing,” he said.
Among the horrible revelations from the royal commission hearings, the evidence regarding AMP was some of the worst, Mr Chalmers said.
“If board responsibility, board accountability is to mean anything, then I think the chair of the company should take responsibility, and that means resigning,” he said.
“There has been pretty extraordinary failures of corporate governance here.”