Former Minsheng Banking chief Mao Xiaofeng 'had links to wives of fallen leaders'

Insurer amassing stake in lender insists it has no intentions beyond being an investor in the bank

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 February, 2015, 12:40am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 March, 2015, 3:58pm

The wives of two disgraced state leaders had links to a former bank chief who was taken away by graft-busters last week, mainland media reported yesterday.

The report came as an insurer expanding its stake in the bank reportedly said it was aiming only to be an investor.

China Minsheng Banking Corp president Mao Xiaofeng resigned for "personal reasons" last week, with mainland news outlet Caixin reporting that he has been taken away by the Communist Party's top anti-graft agency to help with the investigation into former presidential aide Ling Jihua .

The Beijing News reported on Sunday that Mao had paved the way for Ling's wife, Gu Liping , to work at a bank subsidiary for three years.

It said Yu Lifang, the wife of Su Rong, the former deputy chairman of the national political advisory body, also worked at the bank for a "long time" and sat on the bank board's audit committee after she retired.

Ling and Su were detained last year amid separate internal party investigations into alleged graft.

Minsheng was already the subject of intense media attention, with Anbang Insurance mounting an aggressive push to amass shares in the bank last month.

China Business News reported on Sunday that Minsheng chairman Hong Qi, who has also taken on Mao's duties as president, said Anbang had told the bank that it had no intentions beyond being an investor and its acquisitions were due to its confidence in Minsheng's long-term prospects.

Anbang has expanded its portfolio of Minsheng's mainland and Hong Kong-listed stock, boosting its A-share holdings to 22.5 per cent of the lender and H shares to 5.2 per cent as of Thursday.

Meanwhile, several original major shareholders have cut their stakes in the bank.

Before Mao's departure, Caijing, another major financial news outlet, had reported that Anbang could be seeking to control Minsheng's board to foster "very close cooperation" between their insurance operations and the bank's lending business.

Southern Weekly reported last week that several princelings, including Chen Xiaolu, son of Marshal Chen Yi, were among those controlling the insurer.

But Chen Xiaolu said he was just an adviser.