China 'Detains' Billionaire Insurance Mogul Wu Xiaohui

One of China's best-known billionaires has stepped aside from his role as chairman of Anbang Insurance after reportedly being detained by Chinese authorities last week.

In May, Wu Xiaohui was accused of "evading industry regulations" and "wreaking havoc on market order" by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC).

Earlier in June, Wu was banned from traveling outside China, the Financial Times reported.

A statement released by the company at the time stated:"Mr Wu Xiaohui i.s unable to perform his duties for personal reasons" and that "operations were normal" and that he had authorized company executives to "carry out his duties." Anbang denied that Wu had been barred from traveling abroad.

Anbang is known for acquiring high-profile companies, including the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York in 2015, and manages $242bn of assets.

A source told the BBC Wu was taken away in two police cars on June 8. The BBC's China correspondent, Stephen McDonell said that if this is confirmed, it would make Wu the highest-profile target in Chinese anti-corruption investigators' recent campaign against the finance industry.

Wu describes himself as a self-made entrepreneur. He began his career as an investor in roads and Chinese infrastructure projects, and then married the granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping, China's late leader, which helped to give him greater influence.

In 2016, Anbang acquired Strategic Hotels & Resorts, which added 16 luxury properties to Anbang's portfolio, including the Four Seasons in Silicon Valley, and the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay.

Anbang and Jared Kushner were recently reported to be negotiating a deal to develop one of Kushner's Manhattan buildings (666 Fifth Avenue), but it was called off after media speculation over conflict of interest.

There has not yet been any official confirmation of Wu's arrest.