Hong Kong insurance regulator set to name former industry commissioner Clement Cheung as CEO

Cheung is the government’s favoured candidate because of his previous experience, sources say

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 1:28pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 1:28pm

Hong Kong’s former Commissioner of Insurance, Clement Cheung Wan-ching, is expected to be appointed chief executive of the new industry regulator, the Insurance Authority, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Cheung, 56, is the favoured candidate, one of the people said, because of his experience as commissioner between 2006 to 2009, during which time he had to shepherd the local industry through the global financial crisis.

The regulator was set up in June last year to replace the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance in a bid to add flexibility and power and create an effective regulator on a par with the Securities and Futures Commission, which oversees the city’s financial markets. Cheung was also involved in the preparations for setting up the authority.

Among Cheung’s tasks should he take the job would be establishing guidelines for issuing licences as well as regulating the almost 100,000 insurance agents and brokers in Hong Kong. He would also have to manage the rise of online insurance in the city – the authority has said that over 40 companies have expressed interest in applying for online insurance licences.

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Cheung is set to replace John Leung Chi-yan, who was seconded by the government to run the authority for one year until June 25. Leung has declared he would like to return to government.

Cheung is a career civil servant who joined the government in 1983. As well as being the insurance commissioner, he has been Hong Kong’s Postmaster General and Commissioner of Customs and Excise. He was Secretary for the Civil Service between 2015 and 2017.

When US insurer AIG fell into trouble at the peak of the financial crisis in 2008, Cheung took measures to limit any impact on Hong Kong’s almost 2 million policyholders, including banning the local unit, AIA, from shifting any money to the US parent without approval. AIA subsequently separated from AIG and is now a Hong Kong-listed company.

Cheung also supervised the liquidation of Hong Kong motor vehicle insurer Anglo Starlite in 2009 after finding the company had a HK$189 million (US$24 million) hole in its books.