China's Ping An eyes legal action after NYT reports on premier's family wealth
November 26, 2012 7:42 PM EST
China's second-biggest insurance company has threatened to take legal action against the New York Times for reports that Premier Wen Jiabao's relatives had accumulated massive wealth, largely through holdings in the firm.
In a written statement on Monday, Ping An Insurance (Group) Co of China Ltd said it had "noted recent media coverage related to the company, which contains serious inaccuracies, facts being distorted and taken out of context, as well as flawed logic".
It added that it "will take appropriate legal action commensurate with the damage and adverse impact the media reports have caused to the company".
Ping An did not name the New York Times Co in the statement, but a Ping An spokesman told Reuters that it referred to a New York Times article published over the weekend.
The New York Times issued a report in October, citing corporate and regulatory records that it said showed Wen's family had amassed massive wealth during his time in power, the biggest source of which it said was large stakes in Ping An.
On Saturday, it issued a follow-up report, saying that in 1999 Ping An Chairman Ma Mingzhe wrote to Wen - who was vice premier at the time - and another official, imploring them to relax rules aimed at containing risk in the financial sector that would have required a breakup of the company.
Ping An remained intact, and relatives of Wen eventually came to control Taihong, a company that acquired a large stake in Ping An in December 2002, eight months after the waiver on breaking up the company was granted, the Times said.
The price paid by Taihong was one-fourth that paid by HSBC Holdings PLC for a stake it bought two months earlier, the Times added.
The Times said it was not clear whether Wen had personally intervened on behalf of Ping An's request for a waiver, or if Wen was even aware of the stakes held by his relatives.
A spokeswoman for the New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Lawyers representing the family of Premier Wen have rejected claims by the Times that relatives had accumulated at least $2.7 billion. A foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment directly on Monday, but previously the ministry had criticized the paper's investigation, saying it "smears China and has ulterior motives".
Since its initial report on the wealth of Wen's family in late October - including documents that showed the premier's mother had holdings of $120 million worth of Ping An stock in 2007 - the newspaper's English and Chinese language websites have been blocked in China.
The website of Bloomberg news has also been blocked in China since it reported in June that the extended family of President-designate Xi Jinping had investments in companies with assets of $375 million, and an 18 percent indirect stake in a company with $1.7 billion in assets.
(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones and Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING and Jason Subler in SHANGHAI; Editing by Ken Wills)
Most Popular Slideshows
- In Photos, Typhoon Rammasun Blasts the Philippines
- Ellen DeGeneres Caught Cheating with Mutual Friend Before Portia de Rossi’s Rehab – Reports [PHOTOS]
- Flight MH17 Attack: Russians Claim 'Putin A Terrorist,' Memorial at Dutch Embassy Overflows [PHOTOS]
- Malaysia Airlines MH17: Vital Black Boxes Finally Land in Hands of Malaysian Authorities, Rebels Announce Ceasefire (PHOTOS/VIDEOS)
Join the Conversation
- Tourre on stand says email in SEC case 'not accurate'
- Syrian authorities blocking access to needy in Homs - Red Cross
- Faith in European Union at low ebb, EU poll says
- Former UBS banker gets 18 months, $1 million fine, for muni bid-rigging scheme
- U.S. judge halts challenges to Detroit's bankruptcy bid
- Google Nexus 8 Release Date Soon Along with 2 More HTC Android Tablets – Reports
- Windows Phone 8.1 Update Rollout: 20 Nokia Lumia Phones Eligible and 13 New Features to be Added
- Moto 360 Price Speculations, Key Features, Strategic Release Date, Design: A Watch That is More Than Just Time
- Three New Moto G Successors Spotted in FCC Document Dubbed Moto G2, Moto M and More --Reports
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Apps Leak Online, Five Fresh Features to Expect from the Android Smartphone
- Sony PlayStation 4 Outsells a Resurgent Xbox One in June
- Killer Xiaomi Mi4 at $369 Likely to Come With 5.0-Inch Display, Snapdragon 801 Processor, 3GB RAM and More