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Chinese star banker Bao Fan detained by country’s top anti-graft body, state media says

<i>Mike Blake/Reuters/FILE</i><br/>Bao Fan is pictured here at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach
Mike Blake/Reuters/FILE
Bao Fan is pictured here at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach

By Laura He, CNN

Hong Kong (CNN) — One of China’s top tech bankers, who went missing in February, has been in the custody of the country’s top anti-graft watchdog since his disappearance and has had his detention extended, according to a state media report.

The Economic Observer, a well regarded financial publication, reported that Bao Fan — founder and CEO of Hong Kong-listed China Renaissance, a boutique investment bank -— was taken away on February 7 by officials from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in an investigation into suspected corporate bribery.

It said, citing an unnamed source, that his detention was extended on May 7 for three months.

The mysterious disappearance of Bao has sent a chill through financial markets and China’s tech sector. Shares in China Renaissance had plunged more than 20% until they were suspended from trading in early April. The company also delayed the release of its annual results, because its auditors were unable to reach Bao.

China Renaissance, which was responsible for a string of major Chinese tech deals since it was founded in 2005, didn’t immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

The CCDI is the top anti-graft body of the ruling Communist Party and is responsible for investigating corruption.

China Renaissance had previously revealed only that Bao was “cooperating in an investigation” being carried out by certain authorities in the country. But it gave no other details.

Bao is known as a veteran dealmaker who worked closely with top tech companies in China. He helped broker the 2015 merger between two of the country’s leading food delivery services, Meituan and Dianping. Today, the combined company’s “super app” platform is ubiquitous in China.

His February disappearance coincided with a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown launched by the ruling Communist Party into the financial sector, which has ensnared more than a dozen senior executives at China’s biggest financial institutions.

Analysts believe the crackdown is a new wave of leader Xi Jinping’s existing anti-graft campaign, through which he is believed to be further consolidating his power amid domestic and external challenges.

The specific agencies handling Bao’s case include the CCDI’s international cooperation bureau and Beijing’s municipal anti-graft authorities, the Economic Observer said.

Bao’s detention was related to another case involving Cong Lin, a former executive at his company, who had previously worked for China’s largest state owned bank for more than two decades, the newspaper added.

Cong Lin, who became president of China Renaissance in July 2020, had previously served in a variety of executive roles at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, according to public company records.

Cong has been detained by anti-corruption authorities since September for matters related to his tenure at ICBC Financial Leasing, the Economic Observer said. The details of Cong’s detention were previously reported by several Chinese media outlets.

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