China’s state-run broadcaster has put pressure on millionaires after a crackdown on Jack Ma’s Ant Group in a corruption scandal that wiped out billions of dollars from the Internet empire.
In a documentary about the state-run China Central Television, in exchange for government policy incentives, private companies “paid unreasonably high” to the brothers of the former Chinese Communist Party leader in Hangzhou, the eastern city where Ant Group headquarters are located. Insisted. Support for real estate purchases.
According to two sources close to public records and transactions, Ant Group’s unit will have two parcels in Hangzhou in 2019 after investing in two mobile payment businesses owned by the brother of the party secretary named in the documentary. I bought the land at a discounted price.
The documentary did not appoint Jack Ma’s company, but public records show that the Ant Unit is the only external corporate investor in one of these businesses and the second corporate investor, 3 Was included in the person.
“The nature of such a transfer of profits is the exchange of power and capital,” said a documentary produced by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party. The material aired by China’s national broadcaster represents the official party line.
As a FinTech group with over 1 billion users, the program is putting more pressure on Ant. Difficult to overhaul Business that meets the requirements of the authorities. Chinese regulators have been forced to restructure by unplugging the company’s $ 37 billion initial public offering in 2020.
Last week, Ant retreated to government-led reform efforts after a state-owned asset management company. Withdraw from trading Invest in FinTech’s lending department without explanation.
The documentary is written by Zhou Jiankyo, a former Hangzhou party secretary. Arrested in august Due to corruption, it helped an unidentified company buy cheap land and enjoy preferential policies after buying shares in a company controlled by a senior brother, Zhou Jian Yong.
According to the documentary, young Zhou, a former business school professor, launched Youcheng United (Ningbo) Information Technology Development Co in 2016 and won a contract to build a subway mobile payment system on the coastal hubs of Ningbo and Wenzhou. did. At that time, his brother was a party secretary in these cities.
“He won the business because I was a government official,” said Zhou, a former party secretary, about his brother in the documentary.
Ant has started a series of deals with young Zhou. According to public records, Ant’s subsidiary Shanghai Yunxin Venture Capital Management Co will raise RMB 1.7 million ($ 268,000) to a 14.3% stake in Youcheng United (Ningbo) and board seats in March 2019. I paid.
Later this year, Shanghai Yunxin will buy RMB 1.4 million ($ 221,000) to buy a 13.5% stake in a Hangzhou-based subway payment provider owned by Zhou Jr. and listed in documentary public records. Spent. Hangzhou companies also include state-owned enterprises as investors.
Less than a year after Ant completed its second investment, the FinTech Group won the Hangzhou parcel auction for RMB 5,194 ($ 819) per square meter, as land auction records show. I did. According to the real estate website, the average home price in the neighborhood is over RMB 45,000 ($ 7,100) per square meter.
In the documentary, the brothers of the former party secretary claimed that he charged a large amount for his investment in the company.
“Of course, you know I’m Zhou Kennaga’s brother,” Zhou Kennaga said in a documentary. “I can imagine the price I raised. You want to take advantage of me. Shouldn’t I do the same to you?”
AntGroup did not respond to the request for comment. The Financial Times couldn’t ask the Zhou brothers for comment.
“The rise and fall of Ant symbolizes the unequal relationship between business and politics in China,” said Professor Nie Huihua of Renmin University of China.
China’s President Xi Jinping saidCommon prosperityA campaign to overhaul the business and political situation in the country.
“The rise of Ant has a lot to do with the ability to curry the favors of local officials,” said a person near the FinTech Group. “Now I might pay the price.”
After the documentary aired, the Communist Party’s Graft-versus-Struggle Committee said it would step up surveillance of the country’s largest Internet company “to break the connection between power and capital.”
Jack Ma’s Ant Group involved in corruption scandal by Chinese media
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