Chairman Wu charts roller-coaster ride for Waldorf-owner Anbang

Chairman of Anbang Insurance Group Wu Xiaohui attends the China Development Forum in Beijing China

Only a year ago he was hailed as one of the boldest dealmakers in China.

When asked if Wu was within China or if he could be reached, a spokesperson for Anbang - which manages some 1.65 trillion yuan ($242 billion) worth of assets - said the company had nothing to add.

In a late-night response, Anbang issued an official statement at 2am this morning saying that the group has authorized other relevant executives to perform Wu's duties while he is unavailable.

"Anbang's rise to global prominence has been much like that of modern China itself - meteoric, with mystical origins, and often misunderstood", said Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital, a Shanghai-based investment advisory firm. China's central bank was said to look into suspected breaches of anti-money laundering rules at the insurer late past year, while authorities temporarily banned Anbang's life insurance unit from selling new products in May.

Wu met with Kushner last November in a bid to buy a stake in a Manhattan office building partly owned by Kushner's family company, the Times reported.

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Capital flow into Anbang will inevitably slow down because of Wu's case and the enhanced scrutiny of regulators, which will make the company's situation hard, said Guo.

The exact nature of Mr Wu's role in any government investigation has become the subject of widespread speculation.

In a brief statement issued in Beijing, Anbang said Chairman Wu Xiaohui's duties would be managed by other senior executives, and that its business was operating normally.

Repeated calls to the Anbang Insurance corporate headquarters rang unanswered during office hours on.

The detention follows a move last month by China's insurance regulator to bar the company from offering new insurance products for three months, the Times reported; regulators said the discipline was taken because of improper sales of insurance products.

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This isn't the first time Anbang has landed itself in hot water with Chinese authorities. In an earlier action of the kind, another one of China's wealthiest and most politically connected financiers, Xiao Jianhua, was reportedly seized from his luxury hotel in Hong Kong by Chinese police officers and taken over the border in January and had not been seen publicly since.

Caijing's report appeared online on Tuesday but it has since been taken down.

Anbang's story begins in 2004, when it was founded as a property-and casualty-insurer selling auto policies. The deal was scrapped after intense public scrutiny, amid criticism from lawmakers and government ethics experts who saw it as a potential attempt by China to curry favour with the White House. Kushner's responsibilities include relations with China.

Anbang now has nearly 2 trillion yuan (S$406.7 billion) of assets and more than 30,000 employees, according to its website.

His company only opened its doors in 2004, but manages nearly 250 billion dollars worth of assets and has become known for its aggressive overseas buying sprees, which include New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel.

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