The Real Deal New York

Anbang chairman fights fraud conviction

Wu Xiaohui was sentenced earlier this month
May 31, 2018 03:02PM

Wu Xiaohui (Credit: Getty Images and Carles Rabada on Unsplash)

Wu Xiaohui is not going down without a fight.

The former chairman of insurance giant Anbang Group, which had a spectacular rise and equally dramatic fall as New York real estate’s flashiest buyer, is reportedly appealing his conviction on charges that he was behind a $12 billion fraud and embezzlement scheme.

Earlier this month, Wu was sentenced to 18 years in prison after a one-day trial. He was found guilty of embezzling about $1.6 billion and illicitly raising $10.2 billion in capital. At the time, he reportedly showed remorse, saying he compromised “the safety of investors’ capital” and “crushed national financial security.” Still, he decided to appeal, the South China Morning Post reported.

Sign up for China Watch for weekly emails on Chinese real estate investments.

“Wu has appealed for innocence. The Shanghai High People’s Court has formed a collegial court to review the appeal,” Chen Youxi, a notable Chinese attorney, posted on his personal Weibo and WeChat accounts on Wednesday.

After a series of hefty acquisitions in the U.S. and Europe — including the Waldorf Astoria and the Strategic Hotels & Resorts portfolio — Anbang hit a regulatory snag. In February, the Chinese government announced that it would appoint an insurance regulator to take control of the insurance conglomerate, saying it had fallen into financial crisis.

Other big Chinese players under heightened regulatory scrutiny include HNA Group, which just sold a San Francisco office tower to Northwood Investors for $300 million.

[SCMP] — Kathryn Brenzel