China's famous businessman and one of the world's richest men, Jack Ma (Ma Yun) has not been seen in public for weeks raising questions on his whereabouts.
He also disappeared from his reality TV show, Africa’s Business Heroes and was replaced by an Alibaba executive. Ma’s hectic schedule was the reason given for his absence from the show, the company’s spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece, People's Daily, said that Jack Ma has been damned as a money-grabbing 'vampire' who exploits the poor.
Jack Ma is now "embracing supervision" at an undisclosed location, the Chinese state-owned media reported.
According to the reports, Ma, a member of the Communist Party, had been advised by the government not to leave the country.
The People's Daily said there would be no "Jack Ma era", and that reflects the current Chinese slogan that China is entering a ‘new era.”
The evaluation of the People's Daily is that there is no so-called era of a certain person, only certain people who have been accomplished during an era.
Ma is not the first, and likely won't be the last, high-profile individual to disappear in such a way.
According to the reports, in the past, there have been a few billionaires in China who suddenly disappeared.
Number of billionaires went missing during China’s anti-corruption drive between 2016 and 2017. Some reappeared, saying that they were ‘helping the authorities,’ others never returned. The most famous businessman being Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua, owner of Tomorrow Holding, who was taken from his hotel room in Hong Kong by alleged Chinese security officers during the Chinese New Year celebrations of 2017.
Jack Ma's crises is likely to be related to the financial issues of Ant Financial Service Group, which he founded nearly 20 years ago.
Earlier, China’s Central Bank launched a probe into Ant Group. The tightening grip by the Chinese authorities over his business empire was due to his criticism against China’s regulation system last October.
This occurred days before the Ant Group was due to stage an initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The $37-billion IPO was set to be the world's biggest, until regulators pulled the plug, raising concerns over the growth of online lending and its capacity to destabilise China's financial system.
An anti-monopoly investigation has since been launched into Alibaba, Ma’s original e-commerce group founded in Hangzhou in 1999.
Ma's personal wealth was put at more than $60 billion in October, but fell by $12 billion given the plunge in his shareholdings over the past two months since his run-in with the country's senior leadership.