Tech billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma has “disappeared” from public life and has not been spotted for at least two months amid the conflict with the Chinese regulators.
The Financial Times reported that Ma was recently replaced as a judge in the final of TV show ‘Africa’s Business Heroes’.
“His photograph was removed from the judging webpage, and he was conspicuously left out of a promotional video,” the report claimed.
The final took place in November, shortly after Ma “made a candid speech criticising China’s regulators and its state-owned banks”.
“Ma was dressed down by officials in Beijing and the $37 billion initial public offering of his company Ant Group was suspended. He has not been seen in public since,” the report further said.
A spokesperson for Alibaba was quoted as saying that “due to a schedule conflict Mr Ma could no longer be part of the finale judge panel of Africa’s Business Heroes earlier this year (2020)”.
Last month, as China’s top market watchdog began investigation into alleged anti-competition practices by the e-commerce giant Alibaba, the country also laid out “rectification plan” for Ma’s fintech venture Ant Group.
According to a report in TechCrunch, the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, “summoned Ant Group for regulatory talks on December 26th, announcing a sweeping plan for the fintech firm to ‘rectify’ its regulatory violations”.
The banking authority laid out a five-point compliance agenda for Ant Group.
The agenda is that Ant Group should return to its roots in payments and bring more transparency to transactions.
Ant Group said it has established an internal “rectification workforce” to work on all the regulatory requirements.
Xinhua news agency had first reported that The People’s Bank of China, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, China Securities Regulatory Commission, and State Administration of Foreign Exchange will “interview Ant Group in the near future”.
The State Administration for Market Regulation started investigation into alleged anti-competition practices by ecommerce giant Alibaba, as Beijing tightened control of an expanding Internet.
In a brief note, the State Administration for Market Regulation said that it is investigating Alibaba over its “choosing one from two” policy.
As part of this policy, merchants are forced to sell exclusively on Alibaba e-commerce platforms and skip rivals like JD.com.
Alibaba Group said in a statement that they have received notification from the State Administration for Market Regulation.