AMP Chairwoman Catherine Brenner Resigns In Wake Of Banking Royal Commission

Brenner quit following weeks of damning evidence before the Hayne Royal Commission in Canberra, which heard evidence the superannuation provider charged clients fees for services AMP were never going to provide.

What you need to know
  • AMP Chairwoman Catherine Brenner resigns following weeks of damning allegations at the Banking Royal Commission
  • AMP Group General Counsel Brain Salter resigned just hours later following fees-for-no-service allegations
  • The superannuation and financial service provider is facing potential criminal charges
  • AMP 'deliberately' charged clients for services they were never going to provide

AMP Chair Catherine Brenner has resigned in the wake of damning allegations at the banking royal commission.

The company is facing potential criminal charges after it was revealed it regularly misled the corporate regulator, with evidence before the  Royal Commission revealing the company deliberately continued charging fees to "orphan" clients for three months despite them not receiving advice services.

"AMP today announces Catherine Brenner has resigned as Chairman and will step down from the Board. Mike Wilkins has been appointed as Executive Chairman, effective immediately," the company said in a statement.

'I am accountable for governance'

“I am honoured to have been Chairman of AMP.  I am deeply disappointed by the issues at hand and am particularly concerned for the impact they have had on our customers, employees, advisers and shareholders," Brenner said in a statement.

“As Chairman, I am accountable for governance. 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."

AMP Group General Counsel Brain Salter resigned just hours after Brenner.  Salter was responsible for AMP's legal and governance functions.

In its statement, AMP said is reducing fees for all AMP Limited Board Directors by 25 percent for the rest of the year.

The board however, said it was satisfied Brenner and others had not acted inappropriately, regardless of the scandal surrounding the Clayton Utz report. The independent report was changed 25 times on the request of AMP before it was submitted to the royal commission

“Having considered and assessed the matters, the Board is satisfied that the former Chairman Catherine Brenner, former Chief Executive Officer Craig Meller and the other directors did not act inappropriately in relation to the preparation of the Clayton Utz report,” AMP said in its statement.

Over the past two weeks the commission heard AMP misled ASIC, the corporate regulator, on 20 occasions about the company's deliberate practice of charging customers for financial advice they were never going to receive.

AMP has refunded $4.7 million to some of the 15,000 customers who were charged fees for advice that was never given.

'Significant Work' To Rebuild Trust

AMP Executive Chairman Mike Wilkins thanked Brenner for her eight years at the company.

"We will now begin a process of board renewal, including fast-tracking selection of a Chairman, and a new director. This process will help ensure stability and further strengthen Governance," he said.

He said "appropriate steps" are being taken to address the issues raised at the Royal Commission.

"Remediating our customers is being given utmost priority. On behalf of the Board, I reiterate our sincerest apology to our customers, and know we have significant work to do to rebuild their trust," Wilkins said.

AMP will be making a formal submission to the Royal Commission by Friday 4 May in response to the matters raised in closing submissions by Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission.

Prime Minister Says Banking Directors Should Be Held Accountable

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said Boards of Directors at the country's big banks should be held accountable for their misconduct.

"These who have done the wrong thing should be held to account... they have got to take responsibility for what has gone on and make the appropriate steps," Turnbull said.

He also reassured customers that the government is working to manage executives so this kind of activity doesn't happen again.

"The critical thing is that Australians know that we are doing everything we can to ensure that what has gone wrong will not happen again. That's our goal."

Treasurer Scott Morrison echoed the Prime Minister's comments, saying"no Australians will be tearing up" over Catherine Brenner's resignation.

"Boards are accountable for what happens in their organisations, I've been making this point for some time," Morrison said.