BEIJING (Reuters) - China's insurance regulator said on Friday it has banned Yao Zhenhua, chairman of Foresea Life, from the insurance business for 10 years, citing violation of regulations in its usage of insurance funds.


The China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) said in a statement on its website that Yao has been dismissed from the position of chairman of Foresea Life, an insurance unit of financial conglomerate Baoneng Group.


Foresea Life could not be immediately contacted for comment.


The regulatory punishment came amid an intensifying sector-wide regulatory crackdown on what CIRC calls as risky activities by some aggressive insurers, particularly those that engage in stock market speculation.


Until late 2015, Foresea and its parent company Baoneng were little known to the public. But they then quickly built up a large stake in the mainland's biggest property developer, China Vanke Co <2202.HK> <000002.SZ>, in a controversial move toward a rare hostile takeover of a Chinese blue-chip, leading to questions among industry and financial regulators about their motives.


Yao, the group's low-profile but ambitious chairman, was the driving force behind the prolonged takeover battle.

In recent months, CIRC has repeatedly vowed to crack down some "barbaric" insurance players to prevent the sector becoming a "club of the rich" or a "hideout for financial titans".

CIRC said in December it had suspended Foresea Life from selling "universal life" products until the firm addressed problems in managing customer accounts and information.

(Reporting By Shu Zhang and Matthew Miller; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)