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China’s banking tycoon Bao Fan ‘cooperating with investigation’

BEIJING — Chinese billionaire Bao Fan is “cooperating with an investigation” by authorities, his company said, nearly two weeks after his disappearance sparked fears of a renewed crackdown on the country’s financial services industry.

The China Renaissance chairman rose to fame as a key figure in the emergence of some of the country’s biggest tech giants, overseeing blockbuster IPOs and a landmark merger between major ride-hailing firm Didi and its main competitor at the time, Kuaidi Dache.

His Hong Kong-listed firm said in a filing dated Sunday that it is now “aware that Mr. Bao is currently collaborating with an investigation being conducted by certain authorities in mainland China.”

“The company will duly cooperate and assist with any lawful requests from the relevant authorities of the PRC, if and when made,” it added, referring to the country by its official name: People’s Republic of China.

The company did not provide further details on the nature of the investigation, nor did it respond to an AFP request for comment.

Shares of the company fell as much as 50 percent at times after announcing it was missing on February 16, before pulling back to settle around 30 percent.

Though the company has yet to recover from that plunge, it is up 1.97 percent in early trade on Monday.

– powerhouse –

Since its inception in 2005, China Renaissance has grown into a global financial institution with more than 700 employees and offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York.

The group has overseen the IPOs of several domestic tech giants, including leading e-commerce firm, as well as the 2015 merger between two of the country’s top ride-hailing apps.

That same year, Bao appeared on Bloomberg Market’s 50 Most Influential list, with the financial news citing the “fast-talking” banker as having the ability “to arrange virtually anything on China’s vibrant tech scene.”

But an aggressive crackdown on suspected corruption by President Xi Jinping has since clipped the wings of many of China’s top financiers and big tech companies.

According to financial news agency Caixin, China Renaissance President Cong Lin was taken into custody last September when authorities opened an investigation into his work at state bank ICBC’s finance leasing unit.

And in 2017, Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua was sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption last August.

The billionaire, known for his close ties to top Chinese Communist Party leaders, was reportedly kidnapped from his Hong Kong hotel room by plainclothes police from Beijing.

At the time of his arrest, Xiao was one of the richest men in China, with an estimated fortune of $6 billion.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has also seen his wealth plummet by about half to an estimated $25 billion after regulators pulled the plug on what would have been the world’s biggest IPO ever – that of fintech giant Ant group.

A restructuring of Ant’s shareholder structure announced in January saw Ma, who has since retired, relinquish control of the mega-company he founded in 2014.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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