Billionaire Bao Fan, 52, is latest CEO to vanish sparking fears of a new Beijing crackdown
One of China’s wealthiest investment bankers has disappeared, raising fears of another crackdown by Beijing on the country’s financial industry.
Bao Fan, the billionaire chairman of investment bank China Renaissance, has become unreachable, his firm said Friday, delisting the company’s shares to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange after the news.
Bao is a major figure in China’s tech industry and has played a key role in the emergence of various domestic internet startups.
But the company is now “unable to contact Mr. Bao,” China Renaissance said in an announcement on Thursday — and could not give any further details about the mysterious disappearance.
The star banker is just the latest CEO to disappear, and many suspect Beijing is behind the troubling disappearance.
The 52-year-old dealmaker was unavailable for two days, according to financial news agency Caixin.
Bao’s disappearance now raises concerns about a possible renewed crackdown on China’s financial industry as President Xi Jinping continues his aggressive crusade against alleged corruption.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claimed he was “unaware of the relevant information” when asked about Bao’s disappearance.
“But I can tell you that China is a rule of law,” he said.
“The Chinese government protects the legitimate rights of its citizens in accordance with the law.”
The China Renaissance case recalls a pattern of investigations into the country’s top financiers in recent years.
In 2017, Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua was arrested by mainland authorities and sentenced to 13 years in prison last August on corruption charges.
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.
According to 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.
In 2020, entrepreneur Jack Ma disappeared for three months. The Alibaba Group co-founder disappeared in October 2020 shortly after delivering a speech criticizing the country’s financial regulatory system.
He had plans to take his group of ants public, but when he reappeared they were immediately scrapped.