BEIJING — The Chinese government said on Friday that it had seized control of Anbang Insurance Group, the troubled Chinese company that owns the Waldorf Astoria hotel and other marquee properties around the world, and it had charged the company’s former chairman with economic crimes.
The move is Beijing’s biggest effort yet to rein in a new kind of globally ambitious Chinese company. Anbang and others like it spent billions of dollars around the world buying up hotels and other high-profile properties. The deals illustrated China’s growing economic might but fed into concerns that rising debt levels could slow growth in the world’s second-largest economy, behind the United States.
The deals have also raised questions over who controls many of these companies and whether they have ties to China’s top leaders. Anbang in particular came under scrutiny in the United States and elsewhere for its opaque ownership structure and for the political ties of its former chairman, Wu Xiaohui.
China’s insurance regulator said in a notice dated Friday that Anbang would be overseen for a year by a group that included China’s central bank, its securities and banking regulators, the country’s foreign exchange regulator and other government agencies. It said Anbang had violated regulations, putting into question its ability to pay insurance claims.
“The takeover management team will take effective measures to keep the company operating as usual,” the insurance regulator said, adding that it would protect consumers and “the legitimate rights and interest of all stakeholders.”
The regulator said that the takeover could extend a second year if the company failed to complete an equity restructuring and resume operations. It said the takeover would be capped at two years.
The Shanghai Procuratorate, which handles prosecutions in the city, announced in a statement on Friday morning that Mr. Wu, Anbang’s former chairman, had been indicted in the city’s First Intermediate People’s Court for fraudulent fund-raising and for improperly taking company assets.
Mr. Wu was once a major figure in Chinese business circles. He had married a granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leader in the 1980s and a towering figure in Chinese politics, and he was widely considered politically connected. But he was detained in June, suggesting that any political sway he might have once held had ebbed.
Mr. Wu also tried to extend his political ties into the United States. In November 2016, he met with Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and a top adviser of then President-elect Donald J. Trump, in a bid to buy a stake in a Manhattan office building partly owned by Mr. Kushner’s family company. The deal was eventually abandoned after media coverage.
Mr. Wu was founder and chairman, but his name did not appear in Anbang’s corporate ownership records. Instead, it is owned on paper by a succession of shell companies controlled by a handful of obscure names. Such ownership arrangements are common in China, where the wealthy and politically connected often own properties under the names of others.
A New York Times investigation two years ago found that many of those owners were family or acquaintances of Mr. Wu, often hailing from his home region, in China’s Zhejiang province. Anbang has said it is owned by a number of shareholders who made the proper disclosures under Chinese law.