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China names and shames misbehaving shareholders of banks, insurers

SHANGHAI/BEIJING, July 4 (Reuters) – Chinese regulators adopted shock and awe tactics on Saturday to target misbehaving shareholders of banks and insurers by naming and shaming 38 corporate investors for having “gravely” violated rules and laws in their first such exercise.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) said the disclosure aimed to limit financial risks and improve corporate governance, adding that such lists of names would be regularly published in future.

China has stepped up scrutiny of shareholders in financial institutions after the failure of once-acquisitive conglomerate Anbang Insurance Group, which the government seized in early 2018. Its chairman and key shareholder, Wu Xiaohui, was prosecuted for economic crimes.

Regulators also tightened the screws on shareholders in small lenders last year with the takeover of Baoshang Bank, once controlled by private conglomerate Tomorrow Holdings. Concern has grown that big shareholders could exploit their positions to secure easy loans.

Despite the cleanup efforts of the past few years, some shareholders in banks and insurers still engage in illegitimate ways, the regulator said on Saturday, so publishing the names of offenders serves to inhibit them.

The 38 shareholders named by CBIRC have engaged in activities such as flouting regulatory ownership rules, using unqualified sources of funding, fabricating materials, or profiting from illegal transactions, the regulators said.

The list includes shareholders in Anbang, Kunlun Health Insurance and Ningbo Donghai Bank, according to the CBIRC statement and information compiled by Reuters based on China’s business registration database. (Reporting by Samuel Shen, Cheng Leng and Brenda Goh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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