Chinese insurance regulator under graft investigation

AP News
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Posted: Apr 09, 2017 11:44 PM

BEIJING (AP) — China's chief insurance regulator is under investigation by its anti-corruption agency, expanding a marathon anti-graft crackdown into the top ranks of finance following complaints of misconduct by insurers.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said the chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, Xiang Junbo, is suspected of "severe discipline violations," usually a euphemism for corruption. Its one-sentence statement gave no details and phone calls Monday to the CCDI and CIRC were not answered.

Officials and managers at many state companies have been snared in an anti-corruption drive launched by President Xi Jinping after he took power in 2013.

Xiang, 60, would be the highest-ranking figure in Chinese finance to be targeted. He is a former chairman of state-owned Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., one of the country's top four commercial lenders, and a former central bank official.

Xiang also is a member of the ruling Communist Party's 376-member Central Committee and secretary of the CIRC's party committee.

The insurance industry has been hit by complaints insurers are engaged in reckless speculation in stocks and real estate.

One life insurer, Evergrande Life, a unit of China Evergrande Group, was prohibited from trading stocks in December. The chairman of another, Foresea Life Insurance Co., was barred from the industry in February.

The anti-graft agency announced in February it was investigating the vice chairman of a third insurer, Wang Yincheng of People's Insurance Co. of China.

Regulators have said one of their goals this year is to fortify supervision of securities and insurance to reduce financial risks.