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Chinese tech billionaire Bao goes missing

After the company’s shares fell sharply in Hong Kong on Friday, the investment bank China Renaissance announced that its billionaire Chinese chairman had vanished.

Bao Fan, a prominent figure in the Chinese IT sector and the bank’s executive director, was instrumental in the development of numerous domestic online firms.

In a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Thursday, China Renaissance stated simply, “The business has been unable to contact Mr. Bao.”

Following the statement, the company’s shares initially fell by as much as 50% before making a comeback to settle at a 30 percent loss.

The 52-year-old dealmaker had been unavailable for two days as of Thursday night, according to financial news source Caixin.

After being approached by AFP, China Renaissance was unavailable for comment right away.

As President Xi Jinping continues his ongoing fight against corruption, Bao’s absence is now causing worries about a potential new crackdown on China’s finance sector.

Given that Bao is the company’s major employee, Willer Chen, senior analyst at Forsyth Barr Asia, told Bloomberg that the executive’s ongoing absence “may be a long-term cloud on the stock.”

When asked about Bao’s disappearance, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded that he was “not aware of the relevant information.”

But I can assure you that China is a nation governed by the law, he added.

According to the law, “the Chinese government upholds the legal rights of its citizens.”

With more than 700 staff members and locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York, China Renaissance has grown into a major financial organization.

The group, which was established in 2005, oversaw the initial public offerings of major domestic online goliaths, including top e-commerce company JD.com.

Bao also helped a big ride-hailing company, Didi, and its main rival at the time, Kuaidi Dache, unite in a historic deal in 2015.

The China Renaissance inquiry reminds me of a recent trend of inquiries against prominent Chinese financiers.

Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua was detained by mainland authorities in 2017 and sentenced to 13 years in prison in August on corruption-related allegations.

The millionaire, who is well-known to have connections to senior Chinese Communist Party figures, was apparently kidnapped from his hotel room in Hong Kong by Beijing-based plainclothes police.

Xiao was one of China’s wealthiest individuals at the time of his arrest, with an estimated net worth of $6 billion.

Cong Lin, the president of China Renaissance, was detained in September of last year as a result of an investigation into his work at the state-owned bank ICBC’s financial leasing division, claims Caixin.

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