SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s AMP Ltd (AMP.AX) denied allegations it had submitted a doctored report back to a regulator and dedicated a criminal offense, saying an inquiry into the nation’s monetary sector had overstated the wealth supervisor’s involvement.
The rebuttal marks the strongest present of defiance but by a monetary providers agency to the quasi-judicial inquiry, or Royal Commission, that has to date pressured a few of the nation’s prime lenders to apologize over damaging revelations of misconduct.
AMP CEO Craig Meller and Chairwoman Catherine Brenner have each give up in current weeks following disclosures that the agency misappropriated funds of hundreds of shoppers over a decade by charging them with out offering recommendation, and that it repeatedly lied to the company regulator.
The inquiry alleged AMP – the nation’s largest wealth supervisor – modified a report by regulation agency Clayton Utz and submitted it to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as “external and independent”.
Their intention was to restrict the report’s findings concerning the involvement of AMP’s senior executives in misappropriating buyer charges, the inquiry heard.
Counsel aiding the fee stated final week that, in doing so, AMP had breached provisions of the Corporations Act that carry criminal sanctions.
“AMP strenuously denies the allegation” by legal professionals of the fee that they might discover AMP has dedicated a criminal offense, the corporate stated in a 27-page doc on Friday.
ASIC is already investigating AMP over the alleged misappropriation of shopper charges, so there isn’t a want for the Royal Commission to advocate criminal costs, AMP added.
Australia Treasurer Scott Morrison has described revelations of AMP’s misconduct as “deeply disturbing” and that this kind of conduct might appeal to “penalties which include jail time”.
Hours after AMP revealed its protection, it stated it had employed banking business veteran David Murray, who has presided over a earlier inquiry into company governance within the financial institution sector, as its new chairman.
The former chief government officer of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AX) would preside over a means of board renewal and the appointment of a further non-executive director within the near-term.
On the Utz report, AMP stated the inquiry’s lawyer had overstated the variety of emails exchanged between AMP and the regulation agency associated to the drafting of the report.
The inquiry heard AMP and Clayton Utz exchanged some 700 emails in the course of the regulation agency’s investigation, however lots of these have been automated responses to assembly requests, duplications and progress updates, AMP’s submission stated.
The agency additionally stated that the counsel aiding the inquiry was mistaken to recommend that AMP’s board had intervened to take away the names of the CEO and chairwoman from the report.
It was the regulation agency, not AMP, which selected to take away the identify of Meller on grounds that he was not culpable and that together with his identify “would attract unnecessary attention” from the regulator, the submission added.
There is not any proof any member of the board knew of this rationale, AMP stated, including that Brenner’s actions in relation to the report “were appropriate and consistent with good governance”.
The Royal Commission is simply a few months into what is predicted to be a year-long investigation. The Federal Government has stated it might, nevertheless, prolong the deadline.
The inquiry could make wide-ranging suggestions together with legislative modifications and on criminal or civil prosecutions.
AMP shares have plunged about 20 % because the inquiry began in February, wiping off round A$three billion ($2.three billion) from the corporate’s market capitalization.
The inventory, nevertheless, closed up zero.5 % on Friday, whereas the broader market fell zero.5 %.
($1 = 1.3233 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Byron Kaye in SYDNEY and Rushil Dutta and Ambar Warrick in BENGALURU; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Stephen Coates