Zhou Chengjian: Mystery Surrounds Disappearance Of Chinese Billionaire

Zhou Chengjian, a Chinese billionaire who is the founder and chairman of apparel chain Shanghai Metersbonwe Fashion & Accessories (a fashion leader in China), has now been added to the list of Chinese businessmen who have disappeared in recent times. Although mystery surrounds the disappearance of Chengjian, Chinese media reports have speculated he has been apprehended by the police as part of anti-corruption campaigns in the country, BBC reports.

The mysterious disappearance of Chinese businessmen will not be something that will stop as we start the new year, it seems. Zhou Chengjian is a self-made fashion tycoon with a reported net worth of 26.5 billion Yuan (2.9 billion USD) who has been missing since Wednesday. The 51-year-old magnate is listed as the country’s 62nd richest person, according to Forbes magazine.

Ever since Chengjian went missing, alarm bells have been ringing about a possible arrest as part of an anti-corruption campaign to clean up the Chinese market of its malpractices. Forbes wrote that a possible reason for Chengjian’s arrest could be linked to his association with fund manager Xu Xiang, who was arrested in November for insider trading. According to the stories, Xu’s firm Zexi Investment made close to $70 million profit from trading Metersbonwe’s shares in about a half year until April, 2015.

In the past few months, China has had several cases of wealthy businessman suddenly going missing. As written in a report from the Telegraph, in late November, Guotai Junan International, the Hong Kong unit of one of China’s biggest brokerage firms, issued a statement to the stock exchange admitting that its chairman, Yim Fung, had been unreachable for almost a week.

In December, trading of shares in the conglomerate Fosun Group was suspended following reports that its billionaire chairman Guo Guangchang, known as the Warren Buffet of China, could not be contacted. As is suspected in the disappearance of Zhou Chengjian, Guo Guangchang was being held by police and was reportedly “assisting in certain investigations” conducted by mainland authorities.

The cases of Guo Guangchang and, in all likelihood, Zhou Chengjian, are just the tip of the iceberg. It seems that in recent months many government officials, managers of companies belonging to the state, and top officials in the financial industry have been at the center of investigations or were detained by authorities.

Metersbonwe has informed the Shenzen stock exchange that they have not been able to contact Zhou Chengjian. As a contention, transactions on the company shares have been suspended “to protect the interests of investors.” Metersbonwe has announced the suspension of the trading of its shares on the stock exchange, while claiming to be “investigating” reports of several Chinese media outlets that suggest that Zhou had been arrested by the police.

In a second statement issued late Thursday, the company reported that, so far, they have been unable to communicate both with Zhou as well as the secretary of the board of directors, but did not give more details into the matter.

Zhou’s situation is part of a series of disappearances of prominent businessmen in China with whom contact has been lost for days, before it was later revealed that they were collaborating with authorities. China is in the midst of a 3-year-old anti-graft crackdown led by President Xi Jinping that has snared dozens of executives at state-owned companies in oil and other industries.

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