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Anbang's ex-chairman contests charges as trial begins


THE former chairman of Anbang Insurance Group Co Ltd, Wu Xiaohui, contested all charges against him in a high-profile trial that began in Shanghai on Wednesday.

Mr Wu's trial for suspected economic crimes, including fundraising fraud and embezzlement, comes a month after the government seized control of Anbang, owner of New York's iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel and other marquee properties around the world.

Prosecutors in the case found that in 2011 Mr Wu had concealed his control over Anbang and faked financial statements to cheat China's insurance regulator for approvals to sell insurance products to the public for investment. That July, Mr Wu broke the rules by telling his company to sell investment-purpose insurance products that exceeded the approved amount.

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By Jan 5, 2017, it said, Anbang had oversold 724 billion yuan (S$150.6 billion) of insurance products and transferred some of the funds to his other companies for investment, debt repayment and personal spending. All told, Mr Wu was accused of swindling 65.2 billion yuan.

Mr Wu raised objections during the proceedings, contesting alleged facts and charges, and claimed he did not understand the law and did not know whether his behaviour constituted a crime. REUTERS