Fallen Anbang leader asks court for leniency

Wu Xiaohui is charged with forging documents and abusing his power

Wu Xiaohui
Wu Xiaohui

Former Anbang chair Wu Xiaohui, who is facing charges of falsifying financial reports and hiding benefits to himself while leading the Chinese insurance giant, expressed remorse and asked for leniency in court at a trial that lasted one day.

Wu is accused of forging documents, raising more than $10 billion through fraud and abusing his power at Anbang to appropriate company funds, according to the Wall Street Journal. The charges come in the wake of a government takeover of Anbang, which officials said they needed to do to save the company from collapse.

Under Wu’s leadership, Anbang bought insurers in countries ranging from the Netherlands to South Korea, as well as real estate such as the Waldorf Astoria in New York. However, in 2017, the Chinese government stepped in and halted their expansion, telling banks to no longer do deals with the company.

Bankers are keeping an eye out for an upcoming asset sale, although an Anbang spokesman told the Journal that they had not sold assets yet, and the company recently filed an offering plan for 352 condos at the Waldorf Astoria.

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Wu told the court he was an Anbang shareholder but denied that he had total control of the firm and said its expansion was not atypical. However, the court described him as the company’s primary shareholder whose control of Anbang was vast.

Wu is still in custody, and guilt in Chinese criminal cases is almost guaranteed, although there is not a date set for the verdict. [WSJ]Eddie Small