Anbang is also one of the biggest issuers of speculative wealth management products in China. Mr. Wu’s detention follows a move last month by China’s insurance regulator to bar the company from offering new insurance products for three months as part of a wider clampdown. The regulator said at the time that it was taking disciplinary measures against the company over the improper sale of insurance products.
The article in Caijing said that Mr. Wu was detained as part of a Chinese government investigation into Anbang. The two people confirming that Mr. Wu had been detained asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the news media.
Mr. Wu boasts sterling political connections on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. He married the daughter of Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leader in the 1980s and in November met with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a top adviser, in a bid to buy a stake in a Manhattan office building partly owned by Mr. Kushner’s family company. The deal was eventually abandoned after media coverage that highlighted a perceived conflict of interest. Mr. Kushner’s purview at the White House includes relations with China.
Anbang has taken the money it raised from Chinese savers and invested much of it abroad. Last year, Anbang spent more than $6 billion for a collection of luxury hotels across the United States. The seller of those hotels was the Blackstone Group, whose chairman and chief executive, Stephen A. Schwarzman, is one of Mr. Trump’s closest business advisers.
In a separate effort, Anbang offered more than $13 billion for Starwood Hotels and Resorts before abandoning its bid early last year following media scrutiny of its opaque ownership structure.
China’s insurance sector has been in turmoil in recent months. In April, anti-corruption investigators announced that they were focusing on the insurance sector and specifically, the country’s top insurance regulator. Xiang Junbo, the chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission, was later removed from office after the government placed him under investigation for “severe violations of discipline.”
Mr. Wu’s detention comes at a politically sensitive time in China. The ruling Communist Party is set to convene a leadership meeting this year that will pick a new generation of top officials, and the party puts the preservation of stability — both financial and political — at a premium in the months ahead of the conclave, held once every five years.
“The framing question here is, has he been behaving badly by Chinese standards?” asked Derek Scissors, a resident scholar and China economist at the American Enterprise Institute. “If it’s just him doing something the party doesn’t like, it doesn’t matter. The question is whether the whole firm has been used to do things the party doesn’t like.”
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