Chinese police detain chairman of Anbang, which sought ties with Jared Kushner

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In addition to his global deals, Wu also bought significant stakes in a number of Chinese banks and financial companies.

She said that no other Chinese publications are likely to touch the Anbang story now, for fear of being disciplined themselves.

Anbang's buying spree, however, has recently ground to a halt.

Wu's strategy echoed that of famed USA investor Warren Buffett - an aggressive pursuit of yield-producing companies, funded by cash from selling insurance products and other sources. China's central bank was said to look into suspected breaches of anti-money laundering rules at the insurer late a year ago, while authorities temporarily banned Anbang's life insurance unit from selling new products in May.

Caijing, a respected Chinese news magazine, reported that Wu Xiaohui had been taken away by police on Friday in Beijing and that government regulators had then met the company the following day. To quiet the rumors, Wu gave an interview to the state-run Beijing News.

Sources also told the English-language South China Morning Post that Wu had been "assisting relevant investigations" and previously had always returned to his office or home after a few hours of questioning. Wu hasn't returned since he was taken away at the end of last week, the person said.

SHANGHAI, June 14 China stocks fell early Wednesday, led by blue-chips, as sentiment was soured by a media report alleging a probe of the head of financial conglomerate Anbang Insurance Group, plus weak May investment data deepening worries of economic deceleration. Prominent financier Xiao Jianhua was taken by agents from a Hong Kong hotel earlier this year and presumed to have been taken back to China, according to local media reports.

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CIRC declined to comment to Caijing, and Bloomberg's phone calls to CIRC spokesman Zhang Zhongning outside business hours weren't answered. Another deal, to acquire U.S. insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life, collapsed in April after Anbang didn't satisfy financial queries from state regulators.

Some of the headwinds facing Anbang aren't unique to the company.

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

Described by those who know him as smart and passionate, Wu is politically connected - he married the grand-daughter of former leader Deng Xiaoping - and has cultivated relationships on Wall Street with the likes of private equity giant Blackstone Group LP, despite speaking little English. And in June, Wu was banned from traveling outside China, the Financial Times reported.

The head of a deal-hungry Chinese insurer that recently held talks with the Kushner family over a NY office tower is reported to have been detained by Chinese authorities. State-owned China Petrochemical Corp later bought a stake.

In early 2016, Anbang agreed to buy Strategic Hotels & Resorts, owner of 16 high-end hotels in the U.S., from Blackstone for about US$6.5 billion.