China Has Sentenced Anbang’s Wu Xiaohui to 18 Years in Prison for $10 Billion Fraud

May 10, 2018, 4:52 AM UTC
Key Speakers at the Annual Boao Forum
Wu Xiaohui, chairman and chief executive officer of Anbang Insurance Group Co., speaks during the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2017 in Boao, China, on Sunday, March 26, 2017. The annual event sees business and political leaders come together and runs from March 23 to 26. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Qilai Shen—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Wu Xiaohui, former chairman of Anbang Insurance Group Co., was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being convicted of fund-raising fraud and embezzlement, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The verdict from a Shanghai court also said Wu will be deprived of his political rights for four years, 10.5 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) of his assets will be confiscated, and any illegal gains will be retrieved, according to Xinhua.

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.

Anbang gained global recognition in 2014 with the purchase of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, and went on to snap up marquee assets around the world before landing in the cross hairs of the Chinese regulators last year. The government seized temporary control of Anbang in February, injected 60.8 billion yuan of capital to bolster its solvency in April and has been seeking new investors for the 2 trillion yuan conglomerate.

Wu used unauthorized sales of investment-type insurance products to inflate the company’s capital, the court said in March as Wu stood trial. Proceeds from sales of such short-term, high-yield products also powered Anbang’s rapid growth over the past few years and its acquisitions spanning from insurers and banks in Europe and Asia to real estate assets around the globe.