Chinese insurer reportedly detained amid financial probe

Chinese insurer reportedly detained amid financial probe

The Chinese insurer that owns New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel said Wednesday its chairman was unable to perform his duties following a report he was detained by regulators amid accusations of possible financial misconduct.

Anbang's vertiginous rise has also brought unwanted attention. The China Insurance Regulatory Commission did not respond to questions sent by fax.

Caijing, citing an unidentified source in the financial world, said regulators may be investigating Anbang's compliance with insurance products or insurance fund investments. Its planned $1.6 billion takeover of US annuities and life insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life collapsed in April after failing to get the required USA regulatory approval.

The industry has faced heightened scrutiny since late previous year following complaints of reckless speculation by insurers in stocks and real estate.

The chairman of a Chinese insurance group that sought a business deal with the family of US President Donald Trump's son-in-law has stepped aside following a report that he was taken away by authorities.

Anbang said it raised 50 billion yuan ($8 billion) from investors in 2014 to pay for its buying spree. Earlier this year, Chinese tycoon Xiao Jianhua was detained in Hong Kong and taken to Beijing to assist with an investigation. Calls to the magazine went unanswered.

In May, China Insurance Regulatory Commission banned Anbang Life Insurance from issuing any new products for three months after one of its annuity products was found to have violated rules.

The latest incident may have been influenced by internal politics at the Communist Party, led by President Xi Jinping, ahead of a key party congress this fall where important personnel decisions will be made.

Established in 2004 by Wu as an automotive and property insurer, Anbang has stormed to prominence in recent years, buying Dutch insurer Vivat, South Korea's Tong Yang Life Insurance and Strategic Hotels & Resorts in the United States.

Anbang has a reputation for unusually aggressive expansion in a Chinese insurance industry dominated by state-owned companies. A company representative said Anbang couldn't comment further.

Wu, who married the granddaughter of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, is stepping down amid a sweeping anti-corruption campaign led by Beijing.

Anbang denied accusations in April by another magazine, Caixin, that it improperly used payments from policyholders as capital.

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