All of the hor­rors pale in com­par­i­son to the AMP charg­ing cus­tomers fees for ser­vices that were never ren­dered. This is just plain rotten.

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - GRA­HAM RICHARD­SON

Any­one fol­low­ing the rev­e­la­tions of the bank­ing royal com­mis­sion will have had their sus­pi­cions con­firmed as day af­ter day we are con­fronted by the greed of these mas­sive fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

This sorry saga once again demon­strates why the banks are so un­pop­u­lar. No­body wants to deal with them, which is the rea­son more than half of the home mort­gages in our coun­try are han­dled by bro­kers. The mob worked the banks out years ago and they will now go to great lengths to min­imise the deal­ings they have with them.

Con­se­quently, or­di­nary pun­ters let the bro­kers shop around the banks and come up with the re­sult.

Aus­tralians would have been en­ti­tled to be­lieve that when the gov­ern­ment moved to pre­vent the big banks and the likes of AMP from own­ing fi­nan­cial plan­ners, some of the rorts would stop.

The con­flict of in­ter­est in a plan­ner rec­om­mend­ing the prod­ucts of the com­pany that owns his or her busi­ness was too ob­vi­ous to be al­lowed to carry on for­ever — or so we thought.

AMP has ad­mit­ted to the royal com­mis­sion that it chose to mis­lead the Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties and In­vest­ments Com­mis­sion on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

This is a truly stag­ger­ing ad­mis­sion. The av­er­age punter has al­ways sus­pected that there was one law for the rich and pow­er­ful and one for the rest of us. If any or­di­nary cit­i­zen in­ten­tion­ally and de­lib­er­ately mis­leads ASIC, you know a crime has been com­mit­ted and that per­jury charges are com­ing.

As a se­nior AMP of­fi­cer calmly ex­plains to the com­mis­sion the litany of lies pre­sented by the com­pany to ASIC, there was a ring of truth to the the­ory that the law ap­plies dif­fer­ently to in­di­vid­u­als de­pend­ing on where they stand on the so­cial scale.

We have been promised by the coun­sel as­sist­ing the com­mis­sion, Rowena Orr QC, that there will be more in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Storm Fi­nan­cial and this will be about time.

Those be­hind the glo­ri­fied Ponzi scheme that Storm Fi­nan­cial most cer­tainly was en­cour­aged peo­ple with­out great re­sources to take out sec­ond mort­gages and empty their su­per­an­nu­a­tion funds chas­ing in­ter­est re­turns that could never have been met.

No one has spent one hour in prison as a re­sult of a dis­grace­ful rort that sent thou­sands of peo­ple, of­ten el­derly with no hope of start­ing again, broke and pen­ni­less.

Some­one must pay for this, par­tic­u­larly given the role of sev­eral banks in this scan­dal.

Al­ready we have heard how

AMP seems to be mod­estly em­bar­rassed, and that em­bar­rass­ment is more about be­ing caught

money can change hands and loans are ad­vanced on the ba­sis of in­flated val­u­a­tions.

All of the hor­rors so far though pale in com­par­i­son to the AMP charg­ing cus­tomers fees for ser­vices that were never ren­dered.

It is tan­ta­mount to Dick Turpin hold­ing up a stage­coach. This is just plain rotten and yet AMP seems only to be mod­estly em­bar­rassed, and that em­bar­rass­ment is more about be­ing caught rather than com­mit­ting the act it­self. Eigh­teen times AMP mis­led ASIC and if that doesn’t re­sult in se­ri­ous charges be­ing laid against in­di­vid­u­als and not merely fines, then that will be an­other scan­dal to add to those re­vealed so far.

The whole coun­try is watch­ing this and for once we have all dared to hope that real ac­tion might be taken. If you fine one of the banks or AMP $1 mil­lion, it will not mat­ter a damn.

The only way is to see the in­di­vid­u­als, be they in AMP or Storm Fi­nan­cial, who over­saw the swin­dling of thou­sands of or­di­nary Aus­tralians, be­ing hit with se­ri­ous crim­i­nal charges.

The mob is right. There should be one law for all.

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