Where is Ye Jianming?
Another Chinese tycoon has gone missing — why?
The mysterious tycoon, who used to lead a $42 billion oil conglomerate (the fourth largest in China), has not been seen in public for months.
He was reportedly detained by Chinese authorities in February. Now, the Czech Republic, where his firm has sizeable investments, has said China was investigating him on “suspicion of violation of laws.”
But Chinese authorities have not confirmed or denied this. So what happened to him?
It's a sudden reversal of fortune for Ye, who took less than five years to rise from unknown entrepreneur to head of energy giant CEFC Group.
In 2016, Fortune Magazine ranked him at number two in its ‘40 Under 40’ list of the most influential young people in business — two spots higher than French President Emmanuel Macron.
The global spotlight was on him again in September, when he paid $9.1 billion for a 14% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft.
But the 40-year-old now seems to be in trouble. One source told the South China Morning Post earlier in March that his detention had been ordered by President Xi Jinping himself.
The Czech officials confirmed that he had been removed from the company.
Ye is the latest in a long line of tycoons and chief executives to disappear in China — either temporarily or more permanently.
Several billionaires have vanished in recent years as the ruling Communist Party steps up a crackdown on corruption and risky financial behavior.
Some of them have re-emerged, while others are heading for prosecution.
Get to know the bosses who have gone missing
Wu Xiaohui, Anbang Insurance Group: reportedly detained since June
Wu, the business tycoon who held talks with Jared Kushner in 2016, was reported to have been detained by Chinese authorities in June last year.
His financial conglomerate Anbang, which owns New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, later said the chairman was unable to perform his duties for “personal reasons.”
Last month, China’s insurance regulator seized control of Anbang and said Wu would be prosecuted for economic crimes.
Xiao Jianhua, Tomorrow Holdings: not seen since January 2017
The Chinese-born Canadian billionaire vanished from the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong in January last year.
His disappearance fueled speculation that he had been targeted in Xi’s corruption crackdown.
Media reports about a possible kidnap by Chinese agents from Hong Kong soil revived concerns over the city’s “One Country, Two Systems” status, which guarantees it has a high degree of autonomy from China.
The South China Morning Post has reported that Xiao is currently being monitored by officials, and that his businesses had sold off just under $24 billion worth of assets in order to repay bank loans.
Yim Fung, Guotai Junan International: returned, but no explanation for disappearance
In November 2015, the Hong Kong subsidiary of one of China’s largest brokerages said that it lost contact with its chairman.
Some investors suspected that his disappearance was related to dramatic falls in the mainland stock market earlier that year, which saw a number of brokerage executives put under investigation.
The company said a month later that Yim was back at work after “assisting in certain investigations carried out by mainland authorities”, adding that neither Yim nor the company was the subject of the probe.