Revelations that scandal-prone financial giant AMP has continued to knowingly charge dead customers have been called “confronting and disappointing” by the head of Australia’s corporate watchdog.
- ASIC chair James Shipton told a parliamentary inquiry he will personally be involved in the inquiry into allegations AMP continued to charge customer Daryl Oehm despite being informed of his death
- Mr Shipton says the case is particularly disappointing as it occurred after the financial services royal commission exposed the “charging-the-dead” scandal
- AMP had already been exposed for continuing to charge life insurance premiums to more than 3,000 customers who had died
Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) chair James Shipton told a Senate committee he was disturbed by the ABC’s report on the treatment of customer Daryl Oehm.
The respected manager of a mental health unit at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Mr Oehm died in October last year.
His friend and executor Naomi Halpern spent months fighting with the company — while AMP sent emails to the dead man’s account.
Mr Shipton said the case was disturbing because it occurred after the royal commission first exposed the practice.
“It was confronting and disappointing to me that this was still going on,” Mr Shipton said.
“Let me say that we’re making inquiries in relation to this and I’m personally very interested in what happened.
“One thing I will say and unfortunately this is a vignette, an example of where their system is … their systems are obviously failing and there isn’t a magic, quick solution.”
ASIC chairman James Shipton says Mr Oehm’s case is not isolated and charging the dead is still occurring in financial services companies. (AAP: Danny Casey)
AMP has form in charging the dead
Along with the Commonwealth Bank and NAB, AMP was part of one of the most shameful scandals to emerge from the royal commission — charging customers the institutions knew had died.
In AMP’s case, 3,124 members had been charged about $922,000 in life insurance premiums despite being told the members had died.
The issues were in wealth management and insurance, leading to an excruciating exchange between commissioner Kenneth Hayne and Paul Sainsbury, then AMP’s group executive of wealth solutions and chief customer officer.
Hayne: Charging premiums for life insurance to someone who is dead, that’s the position, isn’t it?
Sainsbury: Yes, that’s the way the system is treating it today for a portion of our business.
Mr Sainsbury left AMP days after the royal commission’s final report was released in February.
AMP was ripped open for lying to regulators and charging hundreds of millions of dollars in so-called “fees for no service”, losing its chief executive, chair and half its board.
Appearing before the Senate Parliamentary Joint Committee which oversees of the ASIC’s operations, Mr Shipton responded to questioning from Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, a former investment banker.
The regulator promised to return to the next hearing of the committee with further information.
“I will undertake personally to find out more about what has happened in this particular matter,” he said, adding.
“It, unfortunately, is not just one financial institution … these incidents are still occurring.”