AMP presented the Clayton Utz report to ASIC as an independent review despite AMP making so many changes to the final report there were 25 drafts.
The report and ASIC’s investigation relate to an allegedly deliberate decision by AMP to continue charging fees to customers it knew could not be receiving services because their assigned planner had retired and AMP had purchased that planners’ business under its buyer of last resort (BOLR) scheme.
According to emails tendered to the royal commission, AMP’s then chairman Catherine Brenner and the group’s then chief legal counsel Brian Salter sought to make changes to the report.
One of the key changes to the report sought by Mr Salter on behalf of Ms Brenner was the removal of Craig Meller as a key person who allegedly knew of AMP’s BOLR fees-for-no-service issues.
ASIC has not made any formal accusation against either Ms Brenner or Mr Salter who have both denied any wrongdoing in the handling of the report. Ms Brenner resigned and Mr Salter’s employment was terminated in the wake of the revelations at the royal commission over the Clayton Utz report.
ASIC is investigating the matter and is expected to launch legal action against AMP and some of its executives over how it presented the report to ASIC.
Sources close to the investigation say the regulator has also referred AMP to the Commonwealth Director Public Prosecutions for possible criminal charges over the report.
ASIC deputy chair Daniel Crennan, QC, described the claim for legal professional privilege by AMP as “inappropriate”.
“These interruptions delay and frustrate ASIC’s proper investigation,” he said.
“ASIC is pleased that the documents have now been produced but is disappointed that the matter was not resolved sooner,” concluded Mr Crennan.
An AMP spokeswoman said the group had dropped its claim for legal professional privilege over the file notes of the staff interviews.
“AMP’s claim of privilege reflected, in part, its concern to protect the confidentiality of those employees who participated in the interviews voluntarily and on a confidential basis.”
ASIC took AMP and Clayton Utz to court seeking orders forcing Clayton Utz to produce the documents in December last year. Clayton Utz produced the documents sought by ASIC with no claim for privilege by AMP on the same day it was supposed to file evidence in the court case.
Sarah Danckert is a business reporter.