Sydney — An Australian inquiry into financial sector misconduct claimed its first scalp on Friday as the chief executive of the country’s largest wealth manager stepped down over revelations of board-level deception and misappropriation of funds. The immediate departure of AMP CEO Craig Meller came as the government vowed to double prison terms for financial crimes, dramatically raise financial penalties, and ramp up the investigative powers of the corporate regulator following shocking admissions of misconduct to the Royal Commission inquiry. The first month of the year-long, independent inquiry has been a publicity disaster for Australia’s major lenders, which now face the almost certain prospect of greater regulation, stricter oversight, higher penalties and possible criminal charges. It has also become a political threat for the conservative government, which initially opposed the establishment of a Royal Commission despite years of scandals including rate-rigging and alleged mo...

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