Thursday, 19 July, 2018

China sentences Anbang's ex-boss to 18 years in jail

Anbang’s ex-chief Wu Xiaohui sentenced to 18 years behind bars for US$12 billion fraud embezzlementMore Anbang’s ex-chief Wu Xiaohui sentenced to 18 years behind bars for US$12 billion fraud embezzlementMore
Charlie Simmons | 11 May, 2018, 02:02

Anbang Insurance Group's founder and former chairman Wu Xiaohui has been sentenced by a Chinese court to 18 years in prison for fraud and embezzlement, China's official news agency Xinhua reported Thursday morning. The 18-year jail term combines a 15 year sentence for fraud-including illegal fundraising-and 10. In his closing statement, however, he said he understood and regretted the crimes and requested leniency.

According to Xinhua, Wu concealed his ownership of shares in companies controlled by Anbang, filed false statements with financial authorities and lured investors by offering rates of return above that offered elsewhere. It said he also incited others to fake documents to mislead the regulator into approving the sale of some insurance products, Reuters said.

On Feb 23, Wu was removed as the group's head when the country's insurance regulator took control of the private insurer to protect its solvency and consumer rights.

The court found him guilty of defrauding Anbang of more than 65-billion yuan following a trial in March. Among the assets acquired was New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel.

In an unusual move, regulators took control of the firm for one year over concerns it would not be able to meet its long-term financial obligations.

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Wu, who founded privately owned Anbang in 2004, has been accused of misleading investors and diverting money for his own use.

But as Beijing sought to curb capital outflow in recent months, Anbang faced increasing pushback in its offshore deal-making.

The government's swoop on Anbang marked its most aggressive step yet to rein in politically connected conglomerates that grew rapidly and launched a wave of splashy multibillion-dollar overseas investments fuelled by excessive debt.

Wu, who married the granddaughter of China's former leader Deng Xiaoping, was reportedly detained last June, after the company's life insurance unit had been barred from selling new products due to alleged violations of insurance rules.

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