Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba and Ant Group, is suspected missing, Jessica Yun reported for Yahoo Finance.
The 56-year-old businessman has not been seen in public for more than two months, per the report.
Ma has been in the spotlight recently as China has cracked down on his business empire. In late December, Chinese regulators launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba, the country’s biggest e-commerce company that some refer to as “the Amazon of China.” And in November, China had introduced a series of new regulations that put a halt to what would have been the massive initial public offering of Ma’s fintech company, Ant Group.
The new rules came weeks after Ma criticized China’s financial regulatory system at a conference in Shanghai in October. At the conference, Ma reportedly dismissed the global financial regulations used by China as “an old people’s club” and said, “We can’t use yesterday’s methods to regulate the future.”
Blair Silverberg, CEO of debt-financing startup Capital told Business Insider’s Katie Canales in November that the new regulations were introduced “so the government can assert its supremacy over Jack Ma.”
In November, Ma was replaced as a judge on the African talent show he founded, “Africa’s Business Heroes,” the Financial Times reported. The talent show did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but an Alibaba spokesperson told Business that Ma could no longer be on the judging panel for the show’s finale — which was filmed in November but has not yet been released — “due to a scheduling conflict.”
“We do not have anything to
Ma stepped down as chairman of Alibaba in 2019.
Until recently, Ma was China’s richest man with a fortune that reached more than $60 billion. Ma’s net worth has however taken a $12 billion hit over the past two months as China has tightened rules for the financial technology industry. Today, Ma is worth $50.6 billion, making him the fourth-richest person in China, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
As news of Ma’s suspected disappearance has spread, an August 2019 prediction about Ma by another billionaire Chinese businessman has been recirculating on social media.
In the video interview, Guo Wengui, who fled China as a fugitive in 2014 and claims to be a whistleblower exposing corruption in the country, said that in the next year, Ma would likely end up in jail or dead because China wants to “take back” Ma’s lucrative Ant Group.
Last week, the Chinese government ordered Ant Group, which owns China’s largest digital payment platform Alipay, to scale back its operations after expressing concerns that its corporate governance was “not sound.”
A spokesperson for Ant Group did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment for this story.
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