Sept 29 (Reuters) - The founder of China Evergrande (3333.HK), the world's most indebted property developer, is being investigated for "illegal crimes", a fresh challenge for the tycoon and his embattled company as it struggles to stay afloat.
Hui Ka Yan, 64, who founded Evergrande in 1996 in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, is the latest tycoon to come under scrutiny since Chinese President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.
Following is a list of some other high-profile Chinese executives who have been investigated or arrested under Xi's leadership.
ZHAO WEIGUO, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF TSINGHUA UNIGROUP
In March, the former chairman of the chip conglomerate was charged with crimes including corruption and illegally earning profits for his friends and family.
Originating as a branch of China's prestigious Tsinghua University, state-backed Tsinghua Unigroup emerged in the previous decade as a would-be domestic champion for China’s laggard chip industry.
But the company racked up debt under Zhao. It spent billions on chip-related acquisitions but also unrelated, unprofitable businesses ranging from real estate to online gambling that eventually led it to default on bond payments in late 2020 and face bankruptcy.
BAO FAN, FOUNDER OF CHINA RENAISSANCE
The founder of China Renaissance Holdings (1911.HK) was detained in February and the investment bank said in August he was co-operating with authorities as investigations continued.
It was unclear what the investigation was related to. Bao, who previously worked at Credit Suisse Group and Morgan Stanley, has been hailed as one of China's best-connected bankers, involved with major technology mergers including the tie-up of ride-hailing firms Didi and Kuaidi, food delivery giants Meituan and Dianping.
His whereabouts are unknown.
XIAO JIANHUA, FOUNDER OF TOMORROW HOLDINGS
Xiao has not been seen in public since 2017. In 2022, he was sentenced to 13 years in jail and his Tomorrow conglomerate was fined 55.03 billion yuan ($8.1 billion) by a Shanghai court.
The Chinese-Canadian billionaire, known to have links to China's Communist Party elite, was whisked away in a wheelchair from a luxury Hong Kong hotel in the early hours with his head covered, a source close to the tycoon told Reuters at the time.
The Shanghai court said at sentencing that Xiao and Tomorrow gave shares, real estate, cash and other assets to government officials totalling more than 680 million yuan for two decades from 2001 to 2021, to evade financial supervision and seek illegitimate benefits.
CHEN FENG, CHAIRMAN, AND TAN XIANGDONG, CEO, HNA GROUP
Chen and Tan of HNA Group were taken away by Chinese police due to suspected criminal offences in 2021 when HNA Group, once one of China's most acquisitive overseas buyers, was placed under bankruptcy administration.
In the 2010s, HNA Group, whose flagship business is Hainan Airlines (600221.SS), had used a $50 billion global acquisition spree, mainly fuelled by debt, to build an empire with stakes in businesses from Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) to Hilton Worldwide.
WU XIAOHUI, CHAIRMAN OF ANBANG INSURANCE GROUP
Wu was prosecuted for economic crimes in early 2018 after China's insurance regulators found Anbang, an insurance-to-property conglomerate, had violated laws and regulations which "may seriously endanger the solvency of the company."
Prosecutors also seized control of the group.
Wu was arrested in June 2017 amid Beijing’s campaign to curtail big-spending conglomerates as it cracked down on financial risk. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in May 2018 for fraud and embezzlement.
YE JIANMING, FOUNDER OF CEFC CHINA ENERGY
In 2017, Ye's CEFC agreed to buy a nearly $9.1 billion stake in Russian oil major Rosneft. A year later, he was investigated for suspected economic crimes and disappeared from public view in March 2018. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters at the time he had been taken in for questioning.
His conglomerate has now been dismantled under a mountain of debt in a remarkable fall from grace for the businessman who ranked second in Fortune magazine's "40 Under 40" list of the world’s most influential young people in 2016.
Reporting By Kane Wu and Selena Li in Hong Kong, compiled by Anne Marie Roantree; editing by Miyoung Kim and Lincoln Feast