How the Chinese Crony “Princelings” Got So Rich

How did you make your millions, Mr. Wen?

My boy, politics is the only way to go these days—in China and increasingly everywhere else.

(From CNBC)

The Times reported last month that the relatives of Mr. Wen, who became prime minister in 2003, had grown extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, acquiring stakes in tourist resorts, banks, jewelers, telecommunications companies and other business ventures.

The greatest source of wealth, by far, The Times investigation has found, came from the shares in Ping An bought about eight months after the insurer was granted a waiver to the requirement that big financial companies be broken up.

Long before most investors could buy Ping An stock, Taihong, a company that would soon be controlled by Mr. Wen’s relatives, acquired a large stake in Ping An from state-owned entities that held shares in the insurer, regulatory and corporate records show. And by all appearances, Taihong got a sweet deal. The shares were bought in December 2002 for one-quarter of the price that another big investor — the British bank HSBC Holdings — paid for its shares just two months earlier, according to interviews and public filings.

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