China’s chief regulator axed over corruption case

Most senior finance official targeted by government crackdown officially dismissed a week after investigations began

China’s chief regulator axed over corruption case

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

The chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), Xiang Junbo, has been officially removed from his post due to suspected “serious disciplinary violations”, around a week after the investigation was initiated.

Xiang’s removal makes him the highest-ranking finance official to be hit by the Chinese government’s continued crackdown on corruption.

State press arm Xinhua reported the dismissal, citing the Communist Party’s Central Organisation Department. However, no further details were provided regarding Xiang’s fate or his replacement.

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On April 09, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Chinese government’s anti-corruption watchdog, began the investigation on the 60-year-old former insurance regulatory chief for “severe violation of party discipline”, a term often used for officials accused of corruption.

Prior to his dismissal, Xiang was also part of the central bank’s monetary policy committee. Before being appointed to the CIRC, he was the chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China, one of the country’s top four state-owned banks. He had also served as vice-chairman of the National Audit Office.

While the Chinese insurance industry prospered through liberalisation under Xiang’s term, which began in 2011, huge risks also opened up, such as the emergence of so-called “financial crocodiles”, where big businessmen used their insurance holdings as vehicles for corporate raids.

Several insurers also engaged in super-aggressive investment behaviour, using short-term funds for speculation in stocks or real estate, exposing the industry to systemic risk.

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Crackdowns may intensify after chief insurance regulator’s corruption probe
Regulator to scrutinize insurers’ bond transactions

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