Speculations are rife that Chinese tech billionaire and founder of Alibaba Jack Ma has gone missing after clashing with the Chinese Communist Party, signalling a crackdown on business tycoon by Chinese President Xi JInping.
Jack Ma is currently under scrutiny of the Chinese government and has reportedly disappeared from public view for over two months.
According to reports, the business tycoon was scheduled to attend his own talent show — Africa’s Business Heroes — but mysteriously did not turn up and was instead replaced by another Alibaba executive.
Alibaba’s spokesperson said: “Due to a schedule conflict, Mr Ma could no longer be part of the finale judge panel of Africa’s Business Heroes earlier this year (2020).”
His disappearance comes as his companies — Ant Group and Alibaba — are currently under anti-trust probe allegedly for monopolistic practices.
In November, Alibaba and Ant Group’s $34 billion initial public offering was suspended by the Shanghai Stock Exchange on direct orders from president Jinping.
The crackdown against Ant Group gained pace after Ma publicly criticised CPC government’s financial regulators and state-owned banks which he termed as “pawnshop”.
Delivering a speech in Shanghai, Ma had said: “Mortgages and guarantees are for a pawnshop, but if we go to extremes in relying solely on collateral assets, certain enterprises will pledge all of their assets, and the pressure (for them) is enormous.”
According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Ma has lost $11 billion in the last three months, taking away his tag of wealthiest man in Asia.