AMP has “strenuously denied” it broke the law when it characterised a Clayton Utz report delivered to ASIC as ‘independent’, while accepting many of the royal commission’s other findings.
AMP made public its submission to the banking royal commission on Friday, responding to the lengthy closing statement of counsel assisting Rowena Orr QC on Friday, 27 April.
In her closing statement, Ms Orr said it was open to Commissioner Hayne to find AMP’s conduct might have amounted to misconduct in relation to the Clayton Utz report by breaching s1308(2) and (3) of the Corporations Act (relating to false or misleading statements) and s64 of the ASIC Act (relating to false information).
Clayton Utz was commissioned by the board of AMP on 5 June 2017 to investigate the ‘fee for no service’ issue at the firm.
According to AMP’s submission, it includes interviews with 27 current and former employees and is “uncompromisingly direct” in its assessment of governance, culture and procedural shortcomings within AMP.
In her statement, Ms Orr said there was a reasonable basis for concluding that AMP “knew that the representation that the report and the findings made within it were entirely independent was materially incorrect.”
AMP has contested that potential finding of the royal commission, arguing in its submission “there is no evidence to suggest that the Board, including the former Chairman and former CEO, acted inappropriately in relation to the preparation of the report”.
Furthermore, said AMP, the board was "not aware of the nature and extent of the interaction during the preparation of the report”, and there is “no evidence that Clayton Utz made any changes to the report that they did not agree with or that they do not stand behind the report”.
Finally, AMP said the extent of the interactions between AMP and Clayton Utz have been “overstated”.
Specifically, Ms Orr “suggested or implied” that 700 emails had been exchanged between AMP and Clayton Utz, said the AMP submission.
AMP claims that this number counts attachments as well as the email they are attached to, and that the real number is 255. Even this number overstates the interaction, says AMP, since it contains “duplicates, progress updates and communications of an administrative nature”.
While AMP contests the royal commission’s findings relating to the independence of the Clayton Utz report, it accepts a series of other findings against it.
The submissions accepts that the charging of fees for no service by AMP might have accounted to misconduct, and that this conduct was attributable (at least in part) to the culture and governance practices at AMP.
AMP accepts its communications with ASIC may have amounted to misconduct, but it denies it misled ASIC on 20 separate occasions (putting the number at 12).
AMP also accepted that "it is open" that its conduct in misleading ASIC was attributable to the culture and governance practices at the firm.
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