Slater and Gordon launches class action investigation against AMP

Slater and Gordon launches class action investigation against AMP

Slater and Gordon (ASX: SGH) has become the third national law firm to fire shots at AMP (ASX: AMP), launching its own investigations into a potential class action against the financial services giant.

Backed by litigation funder Therium, Slater and Gordon, is investigating potential allegations that AMP breached its continuous disclosure obligations between 28 May 2015 and 13 April 2018, causing investors to suffer losses.

Ben Hardwick, the head of class actions at Slater and Gordon, says the class action has the potential to be one of Australia's biggest class actions.

"More than a billion dollars has been wiped from AMP's market cap since these revelations were made public during the Royal Commission hearings and it has left thousands of investors reeling," says Hardwick.

"Not only did senior executives admit AMP had been charging significant fees for financial advice services it did not provide, but they also admitted the bank tried to conceal these practices by repeatedly telling ASIC they were the result of an administrative error.

"We allege that this conduct was both unlawful and unethical and reflected serious compliance problems within AMP, and the market had a right to be informed about what they were buying into."

The investigation revolves around the widely publicised revelation that AMP had been charging customers fees without providing services.

Slater and Gordon will allege that AMP ought to have disclosed to the ASX from the 27th May 2017 that it had been charging customers fees without providing services, that it made misleading statements to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and that the situation arose from inadequate monitoring, reporting and governance controls.

"We allege this conduct escalated and continued without being disclosed until it was ultimately revealed in the Royal Commission in the week commencing 16 April 2018," says Hardwick.

Slater and Gordon are now the third law firm launching a class action against AMP. They join Quinn Emanual Urquhart & Sullivan and Phi Finney McDonald who are launching similar class actions on behalf of aggrieved shareholders.

AMP said on Thursday that it "intends to vigorously defend the proceedings."

Last week, AMP denied allegations that it acted criminally, two weeks after it admitted it was charging customers for advice they never received.

The institution says it takes full responsibility but does not accept submissions made to the Banking Royal Commission that it's actions amount to a criminal office.

It also denied allegations that it overstepped bounds when it provided ASIC with a report from an "independent" investigation into its business compiled by Clayton Utz.

In the wake of the "fee for no service" drama two of AMP's directors, CEO Craig Meller and Chairman Catherine Brenner, have departed the company.

AMP's Group General Counsel and three non-executive directors have also left the company.

AMP together with the nation's big four banks have collectively paid nearly $219 million in compensation to more than 310,000 financial advice customers charged fees for no service in return.

AMP has personally refunded $4.7 million across more than 15,700 customers since it began cooperating with ASIC in May last year.

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