HONG KONG, Feb 21 (Reuters) – The disappearance of star Chinese dealmaker Bao Fan, founder of investment bank China Renaissance Holdings Ltd (1911.HK), is the latest in a series of cases of high-profile Chinese executives going missing with little explanation over the years.
China Renaissance said late on Thursday it had been unable to contact Bao, a disclosure that sent its stock down as much as 50% a day after and has rattled investor nerves over whether this might indicate a wider crackdown.
Following is a list of some other high-profile Chinese executives who have abruptly gone missing from public view in recent years.
Qu Dejun – Seazen Group
Seazen Holdings, a unit of Chinese real estate developer Seazen Group (1030.HK), said on Feb. 10 that it had been unable to contact or reach Qu, who serves as its director and co-president.
Seazen Group later said on Feb. 16 that Qu Dejun had resigned as vice-chairman due to personal reasons and his inability to perform his duties. It did not provide any further information about his circumstances.
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Ren Zhiqiang – formerly at state-controlled property developer Huayuan Real Estate Group
Friends of the influential former property executive said in March 2020 that Ren had gone missing weeks after he called President Xi Jinping a “clown” over a speech Xi had made in late February about the government’s efforts to battle the coronavirus.
In April, the Beijing municipal anti-corruption watchdog said he was under investigation. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in September of that same year for graft.
Yang Zhihui – Landing International
Casino and resort development Landing International on Aug. 23, 2018 said it was unable to contact its chairman Yang Zhihui, sparking a more than 30% plunge in its shares. The disclosure came weeks after the firm’s $1.5 billion casino project in the Philippines had been halted by authorities.
Three months later, On Nov. 27, the company said Yang had resumed his duties after assisting an investigation in China. It did not provide any information about the probe.
Wu Xiaohui – Anbang Insurance Group
Anbang Insurance Group initially denied media reports in June 2017 that their then-chairman Wu had been barred from leaving the country before it later said he was temporarily unable to fulfil his duties, citing personal reasons.
Anbang had pursued a string of high-profile foreign acquisitions worth over $30 billion under Wu, including its 2015 purchase of New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel.
In late March 2018, Wu was put on trial on charges of fraud and embezzlement. In August that year he was sentenced to 18 years in jail and 10.5 billion yuan of his assets were confiscated.
Ye Jianming – CEFC China Energy
Ye, the former chairman of the once high-flying conglomerate CEFC China Energy, disappeared from public view in March 2018 and a source familiar with the matter told Reuters at the time that he was taken into questioning.
Shares and bonds related to CEFC China Energy plunged on the news, which was first reported by Chinese magazine Caixin. His whereabouts have since not been disclosed although he has been named in graft trials of senior Communist Party officials and state bank executives.
Xiao Jianhua – Tomorrow Holdings
Billionaire Xiao was whisked away from a luxury Hong Kong hotel in a wheelchair on Jan. 27, 2017 with his head covered, a source told Reuters at the time.
In August last year, a Chinese court sentenced Xiao to 13 years in jail and the Tomorrow Holdings conglomerate a record high fine of 55.03 billion yuan, convicting him and his firm of offences including illegally siphoning away public deposits and the illegal use of funds and bribery, the court said.
Chinese financial regulators in 2020 took over brokerages, trust companies and insurers linked to the group.
Guo Guangchang – Fosun International
Club Med owner Fosun International (0656.HK) said in December 2015 that its founder and chairman Guo was “assisting in certain investigations carried out by mainland judiciary authorities”, after local media reported it had lost contact with Guo.
The news sparked fear among investors and sent stock prices tumbling, but Guo resumed duties a few days after the reports, attending a company meeting in Shanghai and flying to the United States.
Yim Fung – Guotai Junan Securities
Guotai Junan (601211.SS) reported its chairman and CEO Yim Fung missing in November 2015 and a month later said he had resumed his duties after helping mainland authorities with an unspecified investigation.
The nature of the investigation was unknown, but Yim’s absence coincided with an anti-graft campaign in the financial sector following a market slump.
Reporting by Brenda Goh and Xie Yu; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Sonali Paul
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