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Banks royal commission claims another AMP scalp

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AMP chair Catherine Brenner has quit with immediate effect as the fallout widens from the fees-for-no-service scandal at the financial services royal commission.

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Interim chief executive Mike Wilkins will become executive chairman until a new chair is found, with Brenner following CEO Craig Meller out the door after AMP admitted to charging clients for advice they never received and then lying to the corporate watchdog about it.

AMP also said today it had cut directors’ fees by 25 per cent for the next eight months and that group general counsel and company secretary Brian Salter would leave amid unhappiness over his involvement in a contentious report into the scandal.

AMP said Brenner, Meller and the other directors had done nothing wrong with regard to the much-reviewed external report it commissioned from law firm Clayton Utz.

But Brenner still quit following pressure from the Australian Shareholders Association.

“As chairman, I am accountable for governance,” Brenner said in a statement.

“I have always sought to act in the best interests of the company and have been in discussions with the board about the most appropriate course of action, including my resignation.”

Wilkins said AMP was treating the scandal seriously and that customer remediation was the priority while it fast-tracked the search for a new chairman and director.

The former IAG chief executive did not mention the CEO position, which he has been filling on an interim basis since Meller quit on April 20.

The wealth management giant faces possible criminal charges after the royal commission heard it deliberately and unlawfully continued charging fees to “orphan” clients – those who no longer had an adviser – for three months despite them not receiving advice services.

AMP group executive for advice Jack Regan admitted that a letter to ASIC claimed clients were at fault for being charged ongoing fees, when in some cases it was the result of a conscious effort by AMP.

He also admitted that he marked up changes to draft versions of the Clayton Utz document while the board also made changes before it was signed off.

“The board, including the former chairman, were unaware of and disappointed about the number of drafts and the extent of the group general counsel’s interaction with Clayton Utz during the preparation of the report,” AMP said.

AMP will be making a formal submission to the royal commission by May 4, in response to the matters raised.

– AAP

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