Former head of China’s Anbang jailed for 18 years

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Wu Xiaohui was considered one of China’s most politically connected men

The former head of China’s embattled insurance and financial giant Anbang has been jailed for 18 years for corruption and fraud.

Wu Xiaohui admitted on state television in March to fraudulently raising billions of dollars from investors.

He will also have 10.5bn yuan ($1.7bn; £1.2bn) confiscated from him, according to Chinese state media.

Mr Wu was first detained in June last year. Chinese regulators took control of Anbang in February 2018.

Beijing, which has been cracking down on the financial industry in an attempt to guard against excessive borrowing and risk, had been concerned about Anbang’s operations and had previously warned investors about the firm’s wealth management products.

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.

Regulators said at the time their actions were aimed at protecting the rights and interests of consumers and keeping the firm operating as usual.

Anbang is best known for its aggressive international acquisitions, including New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Mr Wu, who founded Anbang in 2004, had long been considered one of the most politically connected men in China, having married the granddaughter of former leader Deng Xiaoping.

Anbang started out as a car insurance firm with state-owned backers, has been recognised as one of China’s richest and most opaque conglomerates.

In addition to selling insurance products, it owns a portfolio of international properties and global brands.