Chinese retail tycoon’s fraud conviction thrown out

China’s supreme court threw out a retail tycoon’s fraud conviction on Thursday, May 31, 2018 in an unusual show of leniency toward entrepreneurs amid a string of high-profile detentions that has rattled the Chinese business world.

Zhang Wenzhong, former chairman of one of China’s biggest retail chains, Wumart Stores Inc., was released in February after serving 12 years in prison on charges that included improperly obtaining technology development subsidies.

The Supreme People’s Court ruled that while Zhang, a computer scientist who studied at Stanford University and founded Wumart in the 1990s, violated rules in applying for the subsidies, he did so unintentionally and his company was eligible to receive them.

Zhang and another executive who was convicted had no `”subjective intention” to commit fraud, the court said. It said their convictions were a “misapplication of the law and should be corrected.”

The ruling was a rare success by a high-profile defendant in the midst of a marathon anti-corruption crackdown led by President Xi Jinping.

It reflected the ruling Communist Party’s desire to `”strengthen the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of entrepreneurs,” said a Supreme Court official quoted by the website of the Shanghai newspaper The Paper.

In a possible effort to reassure entrepreneurs about their status in the state-dominated economy, the unidentified official acknowledged they face uncertainty about evolving rules and sometimes need to make unorthodox arrangements.

“In some places, there has been an unfair and unreasonable treatment of private enterprises,” the official was quoted as saying. The official said when authorities find “irregular practices” they should be examined in a “developmental perspective.”

A series of Chinese businesspeople have been prosecuted or detained for questioning since 2016 about possible offences including fraud, embezzlement and bribery.

On Wednesday, May 30, 2018 a lawyer for the imprisoned founder of China’s biggest privately owned insurance company said he will appeal an 18-year prison sentence on fraud charges. Wu Xiaohui of Anbang Insurance, which owns New York City’s Waldorf Hotel, was convicted of improperly raising billions of dollars from investors and diverting company money to his own use.

The founder of a Shanghai-based company that was buying a stake in Russia’s biggest oil producer, Rosneft, was detained in March, according to news reports. A Chinese-born Canadian businessman disappeared from Hong Kong in early 2017 and news reports say he might have been abducted by mainland police for possible trial.

Zhang was accused of improperly obtaining 31.9 million yuan ($4.9 million) from a government program for a logistics and information management project. Prosecutors said only state-owned companies were eligible and Zhang colluded with a subsidiary of a government enterprise, China Chentong, to obtain the money.

The supreme court said the rules had changed by the time Wumart applied and private companies were eligible.

“It is in accordance with the industrial and development policies of that time,” the court said.

It gave no indication why a lower court that upheld Zhang’s conviction in 2009 failed to notice the rule change that would have freed him.

Zhang stepped down as chairman of Wumart’s parent company after being detained in 2006.

The supreme court also overturned Zhang’s conviction on charges he and other investors improperly used 40 million yuan ($6.1 million) from a customer’s account at an insurance company to trade stocks.

The facts of that case were unclear and “lacked sufficient evidence,” the court said.

Former head of China’s Anbang group appeals prison sentence

The founder and former head of the sprawling Chinese insurance group that owns New York’s famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel is appealing his sentence of 18 years in prison for fraud.

A lawyer for Wu Xiaohui told The Associated Press on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 that his client would seek to have the charges against him dismissed.

Lawyer Chen Youxi said the charges were not supported by evidence, but declined to provide further information.

Prior to Wu’s sentencing earlier this month, his Anbang Insurance Group acquired a vast range of global assets and discussed possibly investing in a Manhattan skyscraper owned by the family of U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner. Those talks ended last year with no deal.

The Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court said Wu pleaded guilty at trial to fraudulently raising billions of dollars from investors.

The court also ordered the confiscation of 10.5 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in assets from Wu, who founded privately-owned Anbang in 2004.

Wu was accused of misleading investors and diverting money for his own use. He was detained last year and regulators seized control of Anbang in February. He was shown on state TV in March admitting guilt.

Wu initially had denied his guilt at his one-day trial, according to a court statement.

Court documents quoted by state media said Wu concealed his ownership of shares in companies controlled by Anbang, filed false statements with financial authorities and lured investors by offering a rate of return above that offered elsewhere. Much of the business relied on selling insurance products to raise investment capital.

They said he used more than 100 companies under his control to manage funds and used his position to misappropriate 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in Anbang’s deposits.

As lava destroys Hawaii homes, owners ask: Am I covered?

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

HONOLULU _ Patricia Deter moved from Oregon to Hawaii to be closer to her two daughters, but the Kilauea volcano burned down her home only a month after she bought it.

Now Deter and others who have recently lost homes to the lava-spewing mountain are on an urgent quest for answers about insurance, desperate to learn whether their coverage will offer any help after molten rock wiped out most of what they owned.

The eruption has destroyed about two dozen homes in the Leilani Estates subdivision on the Big Island.

Authorities on Tuesday reported a new fissure opened in the adjoining Lanipuna Gardens subdivision, bringing the number of cracks in the ground spitting out lava and toxic gas to nearly 20 since the eruption began May 3. Another fissure that opened up last weekend was sending molten rock crawling toward the ocean at about 20 yards (18 metres) per hour.

Few insurance companies will issue policies for homes in Leilani Estates because it is in an area deemed by the U.S. Geological Survey to have a high risk of lava.

But homeowners are not without options. One possibility is the Hawaii Property Insurance Association, a non-profit collection of insurance companies created by state lawmakers in 1991 to provide basic property insurance for people who are unable to buy coverage in the private market.

The horror of seeing houses turned to ash has motivated some people who had no insurance to scramble to purchase a policy. The association announced last week that it would issue policies to uninsured homeowners in the affected area _ but they will have to wait six months.

Some homeowners believe fire coverage will suffice for homes burned by fire from the lava. And a list of frequently asked questions from the Hawaii Insurance Division supports that idea, saying that lava damage may be covered “as a fire peril.”

However, there are exceptions. If policies specifically exclude lava damage, the fire coverage will not apply, said Judy Moa, an insurance broker who specializes in catastrophic coverage for Hawaii.

“The cause of damage is lava at the end of the day,” she said. “If lava came down the hill, and they have lava exclusion and trees catch fire, which burn the house, that’s not covered.”

Some homeowners forgo policies that include lava coverage because they can cost more than $3,000 per year, said Moa, who has fielded many calls from anxious homeowners.

The same insurance questions haunt people whose homes are standing but could still be torched by future lava flows.

Todd Corrigan and his wife left their Leilani Estates home on May 4 after a magnitude-6.9 earthquake knocked belongings off their shelves. That jolt convinced them it was time to evacuate.

Corrigan said the most stressful part of the experience might be the uncertainty about what insurance will cover. His policy will pay for damage from a fire but not from lava. His insurer also cautioned him that it will not cover damage if he has not been at home for 30 days. That requirement could be a problem if he is gone for a long time.

“You have to worry about that stress when you’re trying to deal with everything else,” Corrigan said.

Coverage details vary depending on policies and companies, said Insurance Division Commissioner Gordon Ito, who encouraged homeowners to contact agents to find out what is covered.

State Farm stopped writing policies for homes in the two highest-risk lava zones in the 1990s, but the company grandfathered-in any existing policies, said Kim Silva, a State Farm sales executive in Hawaii.

The company’s policies cover fire from volcanic activity, she said, “but every claim has to be handled on its own merit.”

Deter’s daughters live in the same area as their 88-year-old mother. They know the eruption risks, so they made sure their mother’s home was covered by a policy that included lava.

The family’s Hawaii-based insurance agent assured daughter Vickie Pruitt that her mother’s house was fully covered for lava.

But a phone call from an adjuster on the U.S. mainland told them it looked like the damage was from an earthquake not the lava and that the home would not be covered.

“I’m like, ‘What?”’ Pruitt said. “I’m laughing hysterically. But it’s not funny. It’s tragic.”

They were waiting for a follow-up call they hoped would provide more clarity.

Beazley launches event cancellation insurance for charities

Press Release:

Beazley, the specialist insurer, has launched bespoke event cancellation insurance for registered charities to protect them against the costs and/or loss of revenue associated with events that they stage. Most notably, the coverage includes income derived from donations made at events, in recognition of the significant funds that can be raised on such occasions.

As an added benefit, charities also enjoy a 10% discount on Beazley’s standard event cancellation premium rates.

Seren Eaglestone, contingency underwriter at Beazley, says: “Donations raised at events are such an important element of charity fundraising that we were determined to offer them some protection.  We have defined a donation as broadly as possible to ensure that monetary gifts, bequests, contributions or endowments, including monies raised from raffles and auctions, are all included.”

In order for such donations to be included, a similar event will need to have been held at least once before so as to provide the benchmark for quantifying the level of cover required.

In addition to the cancellation cover, charities can also add cover for their event against the risks of terrorism, non-appearance, communicable disease, theft of money and other property, as well as public and employer’s liability.

The worldwide cover is available via Beazley’s online trading platform, MyBeazley. Insureds can be domiciled in the UK or overseas in Europe, the US, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Beazley

5 phrases & terms to understand on your auto insurance policy

You know if you have a car, you need insurance. But do you know what is in your auto insurance policy that protects you?

“It may look like a lot of legal jargon, but there are several key points in your auto insurance policy you should go over with your agent and understand,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto, Erie Insurance.

Understanding your auto insurance policy doesn’t have to be complicated, but Erie Insurance points out a few terms that you should look for in all that paperwork.

  1. What’s your “policy period” – A policy period is when your insurance policy coverage begins and ends. A policy period can range. Some companies offer six month policies, other’s offer coverage for a year at a time.
  2. Limits and coverages – Limits and coverages tell you the types and amounts of coverage available. On an auto insurance policy, it would cover things such as bodily injury and property damage liability.
  3. Annual Premiums – This will show you the cost for your auto insurance.
  4. Collision vs Comprehensive –   Comprehensive insurance provides financial protection for your car from loss to due to fire or theft. While collision insurance protects you from things like hitting a car or backing into a pole.
  5. Underinsured vs. Uninsured – Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (optional in some states) is for your protection. Uninsured motorist coverage applies for injuries resulting from an accident with a hit and run driver, or a driver who does not have auto liability insurance.  Underinsured motorist insurance is for an accident with another driver who doesn’t have enough auto liability insurance coverage to cover the entire cost of your injury claim.

Check out the infographic, provided by Erie Insurance, for more about these important terms and phrases. Your agent can advise you on your options and help you better understand common insurance terms and phrases, this can help when determining the coverage that is right for your needs.

Contact a local Erie Insurance agent to learn more or to get an auto insurance quote today.

About Erie Insurance
According to A.M. Best Company, Erie Insurance Group, based in Erie, Pennsylvania, is the 10th largest homeowners insurer and 12th largest automobile insurer in the United States based on direct premiums written and the 15th largest property/casualty insurer in the United States based on total lines net premium written. The Group, rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company, has more than 5 million policies in force and operates in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Erie Insurance Group is a FORTUNE 500 company.

News releases and more information about Erie Insurance Group are available at www.erieinsurance.com.

 

SOURCE Erie Insurance

What Cyber Exposures and Coverage Gaps Keep Risk Managers Up at Night

What Cyber Exposures and Coverage Gaps Keep Risk Managers Up at Night

Excerpted article was written by Amy O’Connor | MyNewMarkets.com

Risk managers are very concerned about the cyber risks facing their companies and are heavily investing in protection against cyber attacks with the blessings of their boards and CEOs, a major shift from even just 10 years ago when convincing a company to worry about cyber was a big challenge for risk managers.

However, the new challenges for them include getting the right coverage from the insurance market and ensuring their companies have enough coverage in the event of a major breach, three risk managers on a recent panel at Advisen’s Cyber Risk Conference in San Francisco said.

Jimmy Kirtland, vice president of Voya Financial, said in the early 2000s, convincing CEOs or CIOs to consider cyber insurance or put proper cyber controls in place was a battle, but that is no longer the case.

“I have become our CIO’s best friend because I am protecting what he is protecting,” he said.

The cyber insurance buying process between risk managers and the industry has also improved as the cyber market has matured.

“The quality of the questions and the quality of the discussions between the insurers and the insured are much better,” said Katherine Fithen, managing principal consultant for Secureworks. “We know better what to talk about; we know better how to articulate what our data is, where it is, and how it’s protected.”

Steep Learning Curve

But as the cyber market has evolved and more coverages and competition have developed, so have the threats to businesses. Companies that are newcomers to buying cyber insurance often face a steep learning curve in trying to figure out what coverages they need and how much they should buy.

David Little, senior vice president of Global Risk Management at the Las Vegas Sands Corp., said his company was a latecomer to the cyber market, buying its first cyber policy back in 2012. It wasn’t until it had a significant loss a year later that the company realized the amount of coverage it had was considerably less than what it needed.

“That was a wake-up call for everyone… we realized we needed to get smart about this,” Little said. “Since that time we’ve realized we didn’t really understand this risk and how it applied to us. Now there’s a lot more work done to understand that this is a big issue for us, and we need to do what we need to do to take care of that.”

Little said part of that work includes visiting the London insurance market, which he did recently, to learn about the cyber coverages currently available, as well as what risks are on the horizon that the company should be preparing for.

He said the relationship with his broker and cyber underwriters has been critical.

“One of the most important things I did was that I interviewed a lot of brokers and I found someone that really matched my perspective of what I thought the future was going to be. That has made a tremendous amount of difference for us because they have been a partner with us in all of this also,” he said.

Policy Differences

Christaan Durdaller, executive vice president and Cyber & Tech team lead for Atlanta-based INSUREtrust, and moderator of the Advisen risk manager panel, said there are more than 120 different players in the cyber market and that is a challenge for agents and brokers, and their customers.

“I think there’s still a lot of difference in each policy form and what it is designed to cover. It’s important to dig into the policy and understand what it covers,” Durdaller said. “Each policy varies carrier by carrier and it’s important buyers understand that.”

He said with such a knowledge gap in the cyber market and misinformation about where coverage like business interruption responds, as well as emerging risks such as reputational threat, having a relationship with a knowledgeable cyber broker has become essential for risk managers.

Fithen said protecting her company from cyber risk is a team effort across the board – from the internal operations to its insurance underwriters – and that’s the way it must be.

“It is a team effort now, I think we’ve really grown and learned to understand that,” she said. “We’re learning to talk to each other in languages that each company can understand so we can partner with each other and really get a handle on this.”

The risk managers agreed that the insurance industry also plays a vital role in helping them determine what their cyber exposures are, including when it comes to outside risks like the vendors they work with.

Supply Chain Impact

Durdaller said many companies are unaware of the data a vendor they contract with could have access to – either related to the company or its customers – and the impact of a supply chain-related breach.

When asked about what future cyber concerns keep them up a night, Kirtland said vendors getting into the company network and “causing chaos” is one of his main concerns, along with the ever-changing nature of cyber risk.

“What keeps me up at night is the stuff we’re not prepared for, that we don’t even know is out there,” he said.

Little said his biggest concern is the “incongruous nature” of cyber exposures and how it overlays with his company’s cyber insurance programs.

“I’m just never sure I have the coverage that I need, that always concerns me,” he said. “[And] with the advent of artificial intelligence, how it’s being put into so many different things, I think there might be a loss that I just can’t envision right now, and I’m really concerned and interested in how it evolves and affects our industry.”

The risk managers’ opinions differ on whether the insurance industry is offering the right cyber coverages and limits to respond to companies’ needs, or if they are holding back for fear of large claims.

Kirtland said considering that every insurance company writing cyber is likely to get hit with a large claim at some point, he thinks the industry is doing a good job at keeping up with the risk and hitting their “sweet spot” in the cyber market.

But Little said he worries that many in the insurance industry don’t understand the true risk, especially to the industry itself. He said there is a lot of room for improvement, particularly on the claims side, which he described as “horrific.”

“I don’t think they understand the aggregation, I don’t think they understand the totality of the risk. I think there’s a lot of just getting money and premium in the door,” he said. “I’m disappointed, I think there’s a lot of capital out there that’s gonna get hit.”

Durdaller said balancing new players in the market with those who have adequate cyber experience is a constant balance for brokers, but the good ones know which cyber markets to turn to.

“It’s important that you highlight to your broker what’s important to you. I think you just need to be having those conversations with your broker and addressing the market accordingly,” he said.

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