Several high-ranking Communist Party officials have come forward to surrender in the recent shakeup of Zhejiang’s officialdom, and the case may have many links to the Ant Technology Group.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Beijing authorities launched an investigation into the Ant Group’s IPO, focusing on which local officials supported and lobbied for the IPO to be passed and which state-owned enterprises would benefit from it.
According to Xinhuanet, Zhou Jiangyong 周江勇, a member of the Standing Committee of the Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee and Secretary of the Hangzhou Municipal Party Committee, is suspected of severe disciplinary violations. The State Supervision Commission of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is currently reviewing and investigating him.
According to Financial Times, a private enterprise paid illegal money to Zhou Jiangyong, and Zhou’s brother helped this unidentified person obtain cheap land and preferential policies. The newspaper noted that Jack Ma’s company was not directly named Hangzhou’s blockbuster anti-corruption case. But public records show that in March 2019, Shanghai Yunxin 上海云鑫 – a subsidiary of Ant Group, acquired a 14.3% stake and a board seat in Youcheng United (Ningbo) about $0.26 million. And Youcheng United (Ningbo) was founded by Zhou Jianyong.
In the same year, Shanghai Yunxin purchased a 13.5% stake in Hangzhou 杭州 Metro payment provider Zhou Jianyong for $0.22 million. Less than a year after Ant completed its second investment, it was the only qualified bidder for a plot of land in Hangzhou for $0.82 million/m2. According to real estate websites, the average house price in the neighborhood is more than $7.12 million/m2, a significant price difference.
Besides Zhou Jiangyong, the Zhejiang authorities announced on August 19, 2021, that Ma Xiaohui 马晓辉 – deputy secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Congress group, was suspected of serious disciplinary violations and took the initiative to surrender. He is currently under disciplinary examination and supervisory investigation.
In addition to these high-ranking officials, an article pointed out that Chu Mengshu 朱孟舒—former Ningbo Haishu 宁波海曙 district party secretary—was investigated on June 1 for allegedly committing severe disciplinary offenses.
Ma Xiaohui and Chu Mengshu were born in 1966. The two have been partners for a long time, serving as deputy secretary of the Ninghai County Party Committee and secretary of the Political and Legal Committee in succession.
According to the article, one of the clues that local female lawyer Hu Minchun, Chu Mengshu’s wife, provided was that in November 2020, the listing plan of a Zhejiang financial technology company, referred to as Ant Technology Group, was urgently halted. Before the IPO, the Zhou family spent about $0.34 billion to buy shares. The listing was refunded $82.3 million to many other stakeholders in Zhejiang.
They participated in the aftermath of the failed IPO, even including the arrangement of the path of some funds.