Commercial law firm Clayton Utz has defended its reputation in light of royal commission evidence that it may have colluded with AMP in providing information to ASIC.
Appearing before the royal commission last week, AMP head of advice Jack Regan gave evidence implicating Clayton Utz for its role in conducting a review of misconduct in the financial institution’s advice arm that ASIC ultimately relied on in its regulatory activity.
Counsel assisting Michael Hodge QC tabled evidence of teleconferences, email exchanges and draft conversations between top brass executives at AMP, its in-house legal team and Clayton Utz partners, especially commercial litigator Nicholas Mavrakis.
In response, Mr Regan admitted there were “a lot of exchanges” and that he had a “level of discomfort” with the independence of the Clayton Utz review.
Clayton Utz chief executive partner Rob Cutler has now responded to the allegations, strongly defending his firm’s role in advising AMP.
"Clayton Utz rejects any suggestion that the independence of its investigation and report findings to the AMP board into AMP’s Advice business was in any way compromised,” Mr Cutler told InvestorDaily sister title Lawyers Weekly.
“The terms of engagement stipulated that the investigation was to be undertaken independent of management of the Advice business being reviewed and under the instruction of the AMP board and its general counsel.
“Clayton Utz notes that AMP may be addressing the commission further and it would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment at this time.”
AMP is expected to make a submission to the royal commission on the Clayton Utz review.
The institution has announced that group general counsel Brian Salter – who previously spent 19 years in the banking and financial services department at Clayton Utz before joining AMP – will step aside pending an investigation to be conducted by a new internal committee in collaboration with law firm King & Wood Mallesons.
AMP chief executive Craig Meller also resigned immediately in the wake of royal commission scandal on Friday.