Clayton Utz rejects AMP collusion allegations

By Aleks Vickovich and Emma Ryan|22 April 2018

Clayton Utz chief executive partner Rob Cutler has hit back at accusations that the firm was influenced by its client AMP in producing an independent review of misconduct.

Last week the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard evidence of a review of AMP’s controversial client book buyback policy conducted by Clayton Utz, which counsel assisting Michael Hodge QC seemed to strongly question the independence of.

In response to the claims brought forward last week, Clayton Utz chief executive partner Rob Cutler issued a statement to Lawyers Weekly on behalf of the national law firm.

"Clayton Utz rejects any suggestion that the independence of its investigation and report findings to the AMP board into AMP’s Advice business was in any way compromised,” Mr Cutler said.

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“The terms of engagement stipulated that the investigation was to be undertaken independent of management of the Advice business being reviewed and under the instruction of the AMP board and its general counsel.

“Clayton Utz notes that AMP may be addressing the commission further and it would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment at this time.”

The firm became embroiled in the royal commission saga after the cross-examination of AMP group executive Jack Regan.

During an intense six-hour cross-examination, counsel assisting tabled evidence of teleconferences, email exchanges and draft conversations between top brass executives at AMP, its in-house legal team and Clayton Utz partners, especially commercial litigator Nicholas Mavrakis.

Mr Regan admitted to “a lot of exchanges” between the financial services giant and Clayton Utz, including that the AMP board met and approved changes to the final so-called independent report and conceded he had a “level of discomfort” with the level of independence of the review.

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He also deflected to Nicholas Mavrakis several times, suggesting the Clayton Utz partner was better placed to determine whether the report and review could reasonably be considered independent.

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry continues this week.

To follow what's happening, head over to Lawyers Weekly's sister publication ifa, where the team is offering a real-time rundown of all the action.

Clayton Utz rejects AMP collusion allegations
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