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AMP saga shows boardroom faults: expert

David Murray’s departure from AMP and management changes in the aftermath of a sexual harassment complaint at the wealth manager show faults remain in the governance of corporate Australia, an expert said.

Mr Murray has resigned as chairman after major shareholders raised concerns with the appointment of AMP Capital chief executive Boe Pahari.

Mr Pahari had a sexual harassment complaint against him, which management said was dealt with in 2017.

He has stepped down and will return to his role in the infrastructure equity branch.

The re-emergence of the complaint at the time of Mr Pahari’s controversial appointment to chief executive had shown a deeper problem in corporate Australia, according to RMIT University sessional lecturer in corporate governance Andrew Linden.

“These internal investigations create more problems than they solve,” he said.

External oversight of board decisions could help, as could giving employees a place on the board, Mr Linden said.

The latter is common in Germany and allows staff to raise issues at board level.

“Until these governance structures are fixed, I don’t think things are going to change much,” he said.

Debra Hazelton has been appointed as Mr Murray’s replacement.

Mr Murray said AMP needed to move beyond the “distraction” of the case, which has been settled.

“The board has made it clear that it has always treated the complaint against Mr Pahari seriously,” he said.

“My view remains that it was dealt with appropriately in 2017 and Mr Pahari was penalised accordingly.

“However, it is clear to me that, although there is considerable support for our strategy, some shareholders did not consider Mr Pahari’s promotion to AMP Capital CEO to be appropriate.”

Mr De Ferrari will assume direct leadership of AMP Capital while a replacement chief executive is found.

Ms Hazelton thanked Mr Murray for his leadership over the past two years.

“I am determined to restore the trust and confidence of our clients, shareholders and employees,” she said.

John Fraser, a former Treasury secretary, has resigned as a non-executive director on the AMP Limited board and as chairman and non-executive director on the AMP Capital Holdings Limited board.

Shares in the company were trading 1.05 per cent higher to $1.44 at 1503 AEST.

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