Australian financial firm CEO steps down over fee scandal

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The AMP's chief executive stepped down on Friday following revelations that Australia's largest wealth manager charged customers for financial services they never received and misled the industry watchdog.

Craig Meller has become the first corporate casualty of a government inquiry into misconduct in the banking, pension and financial services industries which began hearing evidence last month.

AMP said in a statement Meller leaves without any equity bonus from the current fiscal year. Meller had planned to retire at the end of 2018.

AMP's share price tumbled after revelations this week about how AMP systematically charged fees to customers who were not receiving services.

A supposedly independent report by law firm Clayton Utz into how AMP charged clients fees for non-existent services went through 25 drafts with changes made by the company, the inquiry heard.

The report was then presented to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the industry regulator, as an independent document last year.

Among the changes was the removal of Meller's name from a list of people interviewed as part of an investigation into the unlawful and deliberate decision to continue charging fees to a group of clients for three months despite them receiving no financial advice services.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Michael Hodge, presented emails on Wednesday suggesting Meller's name was deleted because it might "attract unnecessary attention" from the regulator.

Meller has been replaced by non-executive director Mike Wilkins until a new chief executive is found, AMP said.

AMP Chairman Catherine Brenner said: "AMP apologizes unreservedly for the misconduct and failures in regulatory disclosures in our advice business."

"The board is determined that we will meet these challenges head on, accelerating changes in both culture and performance at AMP," she added.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News television on Friday that revelations about AMP from the inquiry were "very concerning" and Meller's sudden departure "is obviously one of the consequences."