June 7, 2018 / 5:28 AM / a year ago

Australia's AMP slapped with fourth lawsuit, shares hit six-year low

(Reuters) - Australia’s biggest wealth manager, AMP Ltd (AMP.AX) on Thursday said it faced a fourth class-action lawsuit for allegedly charging fees for services not provided, sending the company’s shares to their lowest in more than six years.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of AMP Ltd, Australia's biggest retail wealth manager, adorns their head office located in central Sydney, Australia, May 5, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

Slater and Gordon is suing AMP for wrongfully charging customers citing administrative errors or oversights, when in fact AMP knew they arose from deliberate business practices that had been in place for a long time.

Three law firms have already filed shareholder class actions against the 169-year old company, amid damaging revelations from a government-ordered inquiry into the financial industry.

“AMP has been served with a class action proceeding filed in the Federal Court (Victorian registry) by Slater and Gordon,” Catherine Woods, head of media relations at AMP, told Reuters in an email. “AMP is vigorously defending all proceedings.”

Last month media said two more law firms were considering suing the wealth manager. If all five file suits, they would be the most class actions against an Australian company at one time.

AMP shares were on track for their fifth straight session of declines, down as much as 3 percent at A$3.62, their lowest since Aug 2011.

In a tough year for AMP, three directors quit in May after the departure of its chairman, chief executive and in-house lawyer. The resignations followed revelations at the inquiry that the once-venerable firm had lied to regulators, allegedly doctored an independent report, and charged customers fees for no service.

On May 18, Slater and Gordon and Therium said they would offer shareholder claimants the most competitive funding package of all of the class actions announced against AMP till then.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, Melbourne-based firm Phi Finney McDonald and Maurice Blackburn have also filed suits against the Australian wealth manager on behalf of shareholders.

A case management hearing on the class action by Phi Finney McDonald in Melbourne is set for Thursday.

Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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