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News Summary: Insurer attacks story on Wen fortune

The Associated Press

CONTESTED: China's Ping An Insurance is denying a report in the New York Times that the family of Premier Wen Jiabao made a fortune by investing in the company after it lobbied him to waive rules that would have required that it break apart.

HARD COPY: The insurer did not say what the errors were nor did it provide any evidence to challenge the Times' investigation. The report detailed Ping An's lobbying of government officials, including Wen, and how obscure partnerships that concealed the identities of his family members profited by investing in the insurer.

BIG BET: The Sunday report had Ping An's chairman appealing in a 1999 to Wen, who was then vice-premier. He implored Wen not to allow the financially troubled company to be broken up, as rules imposed after the Asia financial crisis required. The report cited company documents, government filings and interviews with bankers and former executives. Ping An was kept in one piece and later went public on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges. It is now China's second biggest insurance company, worth $60 billion. Its top shareholders include European bank HSBC, a Shenzhen state-owned enterprise and other Chinese companies, mostly non-state owned.