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Anti-graft agency probes insurance tycoon

SHANGHAI (AFP) – The chairman of China’s biggest insurer is under investigation by the Communist Party’s anti-corruption commission, the agency said yesterday, as the government pushes a campaign against graft and a clean-up of the country’s chaotic
financial industry.

Wang Bin is being investigated for suspected “serious violations of discipline and law”, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a brief statement, wording that typically indicates impending graft charges.

Wang chairs China Life Insurance, which is listed in Shanghai, Hong Kong and New York. The announcement gave no further details.

Bloomberg financial news agency reported recently that China Life and other major insurers were struggling with a decelerating Chinese economy and shrinking levels of new business, among other woes.

Their shares have also been hit by fears of their exposure to China’s crisis-hit property sector.

In October, China Life posted a 54-per-cent drop in third-quarter profit.

Chinese regulators have struggled for years to clean up massive debt and mismanagement in its corporate sector, a battle that has focussed lately on property giant Evergrande Group.

People on a street seen against the skyline of the Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai. PHOTO: AFP