Posted on 01 Jul 2020
AMP chief executive Francesco De Ferrari has laid bare the astonishing arrogance of big business by blaming Australia's class action system for his organisation's woes before a House of Representatives economics committee.
Mr De Ferrari used an appearance before the parliamentary committee to complain that class actions were driving up insurance premiums for corporations and "escalating [the] cost of doing business," citing research from Liberal Party think tank Menzies Research Centre.
Slater and Gordon head of class actions Ben Hardwick said the chutzpah of Mr De Ferrari was hard to fathom.
"Mr De Ferrari runs an organisation that somehow managed to claim a gold medal for disgrace at the banking Royal Commission in a highly competitive field," Mr Hardwick.
"It's difficult to imagine the arrogance necessary to show up to Parliament, as the boss of AMP, and start whinging about how inconvenient it is for ordinary Australians to want their money back.
"Those of us who run class actions against financial sector giants must be doing something right to trigger this kind of clumsy attack from the boss of AMP.
"For anyone wondering what the Liberal Party's parliamentary class action inquiry is all about look no further than Mr De Ferrari. The business lobby wants the likes of AMP to go back to acting with impunity, without worrying about any pesky customers taking them to court.
"CEOs like Francesco De Ferrari are telling politicians the solution to getting hit by class actions is to make it harder for Australians to sue them. I would argue the solution is to stop breaking the law.
"AMP charged dead superannuation customers for life insurance, knowing there was no longer any life to insure. Then they were accused of lying to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. And this was just the tip of the iceberg.
"However, Mr De Ferrari's whining has actually done a very useful thing: he has revealed the true agenda of corporate Australia. He wants litigation funding for class actions cut off so AMP can go back to doing whatever they want without fear of getting sued.
"Litigation funders help ordinary Australians take class actions against the likes of AMP. For Mr De Ferrari to take aim at their motives and practices with a straight face is astounding."
Mr Hardwick noted that Mr De Ferrari's claim that class actions were making life hard for financial advisors was simply misleading.
“We haven’t actually sued any AMP financial planners in our class actions and I don't believe anyone else has either," Mr Hardwick said.
"All AMP's problems stemmed from head office, which De Ferrari now heads up, not the planners out in the dealer networks. It is typical of AMP management types to throw someone else under the bus to cover their own ineptitude."