Cullen replaces Brian Salter, who was terminated last month by the Sydney financial services company following disclosures of evidence that it misled its regulator for a decade. Neither Cullen, Salter nor the company responded to messages Tuesday seeking comment. Salter, however, issued a statement earlier denying any misconduct, according to Australian media reports.
For the past five years, Cullen has served as AMP’s corporate secretary and general counsel for governance. Cullen has been with AMP since 2004, when he joined AMP Capital, a subsidiary, as a senior legal counsel, according to the company’s official announcement.
Prior to joining AMP, he was a senior associate at Sydney law firms Blake Dawson Waldron and Gilbert + Tobin. Cullen also worked two years with the Sydney Stock Exchange.
In its May 24 announcement of his appointment, AMP said Cullen has extensive experience in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate law and corporate governance. It said he “worked full-time” on AMP’s successful merger in 2011 with AXA Asia Pacific Holdings. Under the deal, AMP acquired AXA’s Australian and New Zealand financial services business.
AMP named Cullen acting general counsel after it placed Salter on leave on April 20. It then ousted Salter on April 30. Also departing during the inquiry were board chairwoman Catherine Brenner and CEO Craig Meller.
Government hearings in February revealed evidence that for years AMP had charged customers for services they never received.
Salter hired his former law firm, Clayton Utz, to investigate the fee-for-no-service claims. The purportedly independent report was submitted to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
An inquiry later alleged that Salter tried to protect senior executives by imposing major changes and forcing the law firm’s report through 25 rewrites. Salter has denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement at the time reported by Australian Business Insider, Salter said, “I accept without reservation that AMP must take immediate steps to restore confidence and respect of, and re-earn the trust from all its stakeholders. This requires not only refreshment of the board with suitably qualified directors but also changes in the senior executive team. My departure is a necessary part of this process.”
In defending his actions, Salter’s statement said that AMP was entitled to seek legal advice from Clayton Utz.
“Clayton Utz has stated publicly that its report and its independence were not compromised,” the statement said. “Clayton Utz has also stated publicly that its terms of reference were clear and required it to prepare a report independent of management of the AMP business being reviewed, and under the instruction of the AMP board and its group legal counsel [Salter].”
In a May 4 statement, the law firm’s chief executive partner, Rob Cutler, reiterated Salter’s comments, saying, “the report we prepared was for the AMP board and was the result of an extensive investigation, which in fact identified much of the conduct referred to by the commission. At no stage were the findings compromised by AMP or any other person.”
AMP said in a statement that Brenner, Meller and the other directors “did not act inappropriately in relation to the preparation of the Clayton Utz report,” but didn’t comment on Salter’s behavior, according to a Reuters news report on April 29.