Prosecutors: Chinese insurance boss tried on finance charges

BEIJING — The founder of the Chinese insurer that owns New York City's Waldorf Hotel went on trial Wednesday on charges of fraud and abusing his position for personal benefit.

Wu Xiaohui, chairman of Anbang Insurance Group, was detained last year and regulators took control of privately owned Anbang in February after a multibillion-dollar global buying spree prompted questions about where its money came from and whether it could pay its debts.

Wu is accused of fraudulently raising 65 billion yuan ($10 billion) and abusing his post to benefit himself, according to a report by prosecutors that was posted on the social media account of the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court.

Most trials in China last no more than a day, even for complex financial cases. Verdicts usually are issued days or weeks later.

Anbang discussed possibly investing in a Manhattan skyscraper owned by the family of U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, but those talks ended last year with no deal.

The case added to an avalanche of scandals in China's insurance industry. The industry's former chief regulator was charged in September with taking bribes and executives of other insurers have been charged with corruption and mismanagement.

Wu founded Anbang in 2004 and gained a reputation for aggressive expansion in a stodgy industry dominated by state-owned insurers.

The company grew to more than 30,000 employees with 35 million clients and diversified into life insurance, banking, asset management, leasing and brokerage services.

Questions about Anbang's future have swirled since the company announced Wu handed his duties to deputies in June following news reports he was detained for questioning about unspecified financial offenses.

Wu also is charged with violating capital limits set by regulators by improperly raising 724 billion yuan ($115 billion) from 10.6 million investors, according to Wednesday's statement.

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