Global litigation heavies back AMP class action
Two major international litigation players are circling Australian financial giant AMP for a potential shareholder class action suit in the wake of scandals emanating from the royal commission.
Over the past week senior AMP executives have appeared before the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry and admitted to a number of potential crimes including providing false and misleading statements to the regulator and charging customers for services that were not provided.
More than $1 billion in shareholder value has been lost at the ASX-listed behemoth since March, with the losses escalating as a result of royal commission testimony.
As a result, Los Angeles-based litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is investigating the prospect of a class action lawsuit against AMP on behalf of aggrieved shareholders.
“The revelations of AMP’s misconduct are especially upsetting given the people who were hurt – the ordinary Mums and Dads who as shareholders gave AMP one of Australia’s largest shareholder registers, who have now lost their savings due to its dishonesty, and who as customers were charged for services AMP has admitted they never received, all so executives could make hefty bonuses,” said Quinn Emanuel partner Damian Scattini in a statement.
“QE has been investigating AMP’s precipitous share price fall even before the most recent revelations of misconduct, and having Burford, the world’s top litigation finance company, in place as our partner means we’re ready to move quickly on behalf of shareholders,” he added.
Mr Scattini previously acted for clients in litigation proceedings following the collapse of Storm Financial, one of the most infamous cases of financial fraud in Australian history, which resulted in significant investor losses and subsequent regulation.
The prospective suit will be financed by Guernsey-headquartered litigation funder Burford Capital, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Burford managing director Craig Arnott – who is based in London but was formerly called to the NSW Bar with offices at Sixth Floor Selborne and Wentworth Chambers in Sydney – said AMP shareholders deserve redress in this matter.
“Burford is glad to join forces with Quinn’s first-rate team so we can help deliver that result for shareholders, which we hope will be as swift as possible,” Mr Arnott said.
Last night, Slater and Gordon confirmed that it too will be investigating the "potential liability" of AMP to its investors.
“The revelations heard in the royal commission this month have demonstrated that AMP withheld important information from corporate regulators over many years," said principal lawyer Mathew Chuk.
“It is likely that AMP had an obligation to disclose that misconduct to the market at large and that investors may have very significant claims against the company arising from that failure.
“Based on our extensive experience with investor class actions, we believe this has the potential to be one of the biggest in Australian legal history.”
The litigation comes as Clayton Utz has been named in the royal commission proceedings, with counsel assisting suggesting the blue-chip firm was influenced by its client AMP in conducting an independent review relied on by ASIC in its regulatory activity.
Clayton Utz chief executive partner Rob Cutler told Lawyers Weekly yesterday that the firm rejects suggestions that its independence was “compromised”.
The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry continues this week.