Exclusive-Star Chinese fund manager Wang detained and under investigation -sources

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(Reuters) -Wang Yawei, a star fund manager in China, has been detained by authorities since August and is under investigation, according to three sources, adding to the list of top financial executives caught up in a widening corruption crackdown this year.

His case relates to an investigation into Zhu Congjiu, a former senior official at China’s top securities regulator, the sources said. Attempts to reach Wang have been unsuccessful for several weeks, said two of the sources.

The sources, who are close to the matter, declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation.

Wang, the 52-year-old founder of Qianhe Capital Management in Shenzhen and Top Ace Asset Management in Hong Kong, is the latest high-profile Chinese business executive to be investigated or detained.

Zhu is suspected of serious violations of the Chinese Communist Party’s discipline and national laws, usually the party’s shorthand for graft, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in May.

Wang, once hailed by retail investors and state media as the No.1 portfolio manager in China’s roughly $4 trillion mutual fund industry, and Zhu are both natives of Anhui province in eastern China.

The CCDI, the country’s top anti-graft watchdog, the Ministry of Public Security and Qianhe Capital did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Wang and Top Ace could not be reached for comment.

Before setting up his own shop, Wang spent 14 years at China Asset Management Co (AMC), one of the country’s largest mutual fund houses, as its vice-president and chief investment officer.

At AMC, Wang was known for generating huge returns on stock picks and garnering a large following among retail investors.

The mutual funds he ran were perennially among the best-performing funds in the country.

Under his watch the China AMC Large-Cap Select Fund posted a 1,195% return from December 2005 to May 2012, topping all Chinese stock funds during the period, according to data provider Eastmoney and media reports.

CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN

Zhu is one of several former China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) officials to come under scrutiny in recent years.

In addition to years spent in security regulation, Zhu also worked at the Shanghai bourse and was a former deputy governor of Zhejiang province in charge of financial affairs.

The CCDI in February vowed to “resolutely” crack down on corruption in the financial sector in a strongly worded commentary. The wording suggests that President Xi Jinping’s signature anti-corruption campaign is increasingly turning towards the financial and corporate sector.

Wang, who majored in electronics at prestigious Tsinghua University, is the latest high-profile Chinese executive to suddenly vanish from public view with little explanation during Xi’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign

Famed dealmaker Bao Fan, founder of investment bank China Renaissance Holdings Ltd, went missing in February and the bank later that month said that he was co-operating with Chinese authorities conducting an investigation.

The abrupt disappearance of Bao saw shares of the investment bank plunge as much as 50% with the bank suspending trading in the stock from April.

Chinese news outlet Caixin reported in June that Gao Bin, the former chairman of private equity firm Greenwoods Investment and a former securities regulator, was taken away by authorities for investigation which may be related to the probe into Zhu.

Before joining Greenwoods in 2015, Gao had worked at the CSRC for several years, overlapping with Zhu’s time at the regulator.

Earlier this month, the CCDI said the Communist Party had expelled the former chairman of the state-owned Bank of China from the party, accusing him of illegal activities and taking bribes.

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