The founder and former chairman of Chinese insurance giant Anbang, Wu Xiaohui, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after a trial in a Shanghai court in which the executive pled guilty to fundraising fraud and embezzlement.
The judge also today (10 May), ordered the confiscation of 10.5bn yuan ($1.7bn) of Wu’s assets and suspended his political rights for the next four years, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Wu had previously denied the allegations of “economic crimes” which emerged against him last year as the Chinese authorities moved to crackdown on opaque ownership structures and funding sources in the country’s financial services sector.
Shanghai prosecutors had said that the charges related Anbang’s ownership structure and purported faking of financial statements in a bid to gain regulatory approval to sell investment-linked insurance products.
The executive’s predecessor An Xiobohu was arrested in February this year over similar allegations, and in March the newly-combined local banking and insurance regulator seized control of Anbang in what it said was a move prompted by concerns over the group’s solvency position and to protect consumers.
Then at the beginning of April the authorities announced a 60.8bn yuan bailout for the conglomerate following the arrests using funds from a non-government industry fund that is used, in its own words, as a “fire extinguisher” for problematic firms.
The former standalone insurance regulator had taken over the company in February after the arrest of An, but it had pledged to keep the business in private hands with a takeover team focussed on introducing “high-quality social capital” and completing an equity restructuring.