The first few days of this year were rife with speculation that Alibaba founder Jack Ma had disappeared. But the fintech tycoon remains elusive, reportedly under supervision by Chinese authorities, the Asia Times Financial reported. Ever since he made a speech in October last year, Jack Ma has had several run-ins with the Chinese state and financial regulators. In early November 2020, the initial public offering of one of his companies, the Ant Group, was suspended by the Shanghai Stock Exchange. This was followed by China's central bank and antitrust watchdog turning the screws on the Alibaba Group and Ant Group as well as Ma himself. Scrutiny by authorities The first run-ins began when the People's Bank of China (PBC) tightened rules on online lenders introducing new measures on capital, licensing requirements, caps on loan rates and limits on the use of asset-backed securities to fund quick consumer loans. Ma's personal wealth was pegged at $60 billion at the time. Then during a speech at the Bund Summit, in Shanghai in October, Ma likened China's traditional banks to "pawnshops", which allowed many to grow so big that they are not allowed to fail. "We shouldn’t use the way to manage a train station to regulate an airport, neither should we regulate the future with the method from yesterday," he said. This earned the ire of regulators. After the IPO was suspended, in early December the Chinese antitrust watchdog fined Alibaba 500,000 yuan ($76,500) over a few acquisitions it had made.…
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