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

Reuters

Wu Xiaohui, former chairman and general manager of Anbang Insurance Group, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for fundraising fraud and embezzlement of corporate funds.

Wu was also deprived of his political rights for four years, and had 10.5 billion yuan (1.6 billion US dollars) of his property confiscated, according to the court sentence.

The court found that over six years, Wu had "instructed others to adopt fraudulent financial statements, disclose false information, falsely increase capital, falsified solvency, made false report or concealed premium incomes, and defrauded the regulatory agencies and the public".

Mr. Wu was thrust into the spotlight in February when the government seized Anbang, in part of a crackdown on companies that have acquired too much debt by bingeing on overseas assets. It also found that he swindled retail investors out of 65.2 billion yuan - the amount that hasn't been paid back to Anbang Property.

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The verdict seals the remarkable downfall of a dealmaker who was accused in March of masterminding a $10.2 billion fraud, as President Xi Jinping expands his anti-corruption campaign and a drive to curb financial risks. It also has significant stakes in Chinese banks and property developers.

Wu's situation marks a startling fall from grace for a man who reportedly married a granddaughter of the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping - a sign that even political connections can not guarantee immunity.

Anbang's takeover by the authorities is due to last a year but the government has said it could be extended if necessary as authorities work to restructure the firm.

Acquisitive private companies such as Anbang, HNA, Fosun and Wanda spent billions on the overseas purchases of everything from European football clubs to hotel chains and movie studios.

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