Jack Ma, the multi-billionaire founder of tech companies Alibaba and Ant Group is missing for more than two months with his disappearance being linked to his differences with the Chinese government.
In October, Alibaba-owned fintech company Ant Group’s initial public offering (IPO) got a massive $3 trillion worth of bids from individual investors across its dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai, which is more than India’s GDP. The IPO also took over the record set by oil giant Saudi Aramco’s $29.4 billion IPO in 2019.
However, the Chinese government soon launched a coordinated regulatory crackdown, with the suspension of the world’s largest IPO on November 3, that stunned financiers from New York to Shanghai.
His sudden disappearance has fuelled speculation that Ma, who is one of China’s richest men, is paying the price for his criticism of the country’s regime.
The news has come when the world’s second-largest economy minted 257 billionaires over the past year, bringing the total to 878, according to the Hurun Rich List 2020. China’s billionaires added $1.5 trillion to their wealth, bringing the total worth of China’s billionaires to $4 trillion, the report said. This also means that China minted three times as many new billionaires than the United States in the past year.
Interestingly, the Chinese billionaires and company bosses keep vanishing—a trend for the past few years. Most reappear days later while others end up in prison or fall from buildings.
Here is a list of a few billionaires who fell from grace in China in less than six years.
Businessman and billionaire known for managing assets for descendants of prominent Chinese leaders, Xiao Jianhua was abducted to Mainland China in 2017.
Hong Kong bookseller and British passport holder Lee Bo disappeared in January 2016 before reappearing in China three months later.
The former chairman of the conglomerate Hanlong Group, with interests in power generation and mining, his assets were officially valued at 40 billion Yuan (US$6.4 billion). He was convicted of murder and many other charges, and executed in February 2015.
Founder Securities Company Ltd, a joint venture partner of Swiss bank Credit Suisse went missing in January 2015 but released from police custody after he assisted with a government probe. He was replaced as chairman and removed from the board.
Known as “China’s Warren Buffett,” he went missing in December 2015. He is worth an estimated $6.9 billion. His investment group, Fosun, owns Club Med and Cirque du Soleil among other businesses. He reappeared in the US after about a week spent out of contact.
Yim Fung, chairman of the Hong Kong unit of Guotai Junan Securities, one of China’s largest brokers, could not be contacted for more than a month after disappearing on November 18, 2015. He reappeared after “assisting in certain investigations.”