A mystery father and daughter are the richest individuals in China's finance industry, a sector still largely closed to the private sector. Liu Zhenjian and daughter Liu Fang together own US$600 million in shares of listed Ping An Insurance, giving them more than double the US$235 million of Ye Xuansheng, in third place, according to the Finance Industry Rich List published yesterday by Rupert Hoogewerf. Last week, Mr Hoogewerf published his China Rich List, which identifies the mainland's wealthiest across all industries. With a cut-off point of 300 million yuan or US$37 million, the list contains only 18 names, a reflection of government reluctance to allow private capital into this sector. There are both policy and political reasons for this. The government fears that owners of private banks will use them as a treasury for their own companies, neglecting corporate governance and their depositors, leaving the state to pick up the bill if they go bankrupt. It regards the sector as too strategic to be in private hands and fears the power that ownership of a bank would confer. Financial institutions that are open to private investment are subjected to close scrutiny by the government, which usually selects their senior officers. 'It is very clear that the government does not want finance in private hands,' Mr Hoogewerf said. The best known of the 18 is Liu Yonghao, who is chairman of New Hope Group, one of China's biggest feed grain producers, and a leading Minsheng shareholder. He is a vice-chairman of the bank but boasts that his companies have never borrowed one yuan from it. Huang Xi, ranked ninth with US$100 million, is a low-profile woman in her 40s who heads the Good First Group of Xiamen. She made her fortune in real estate and IT and used some of the proceeds to buy stakes in Minsheng and Bank of Communications.