After making “controversial” comments about the Chinese regulatory situation on businesses, AliBaba Group boss Jack Ma then disappeared from the public eye for months and that raised a lot of questions whether he’s alive, dead or being imprisoned by the Chinese government for making a comment against it but then it was later reported that Chairman Jack Ma was meeting with Regulators during these periods.
But the most obvious is that his conglomerate of tech companies AliBaba Group was hit on Saturday by the Chinese government with a record US$2.8 billion fine for abusing its leading market position.
Alibaba Group said in a statement that the penalty came from the State Administration for Market Regulation, which had been investigating it since December.
This makes it another critical stance the Chinese regulatory board is taking against the Jack Ma’s empire – one of the country’s wealthiest man.
The downfall started much earlier before a conference speech last fall where Ma made negative remarks about international financial regulations.
With that, the Chinese president Xi Jinping then halted a planned US$37 billion initial public offering by Ant Group, which is another Jack Ma’s company.
The Financial Times later reported that Jack Ma’s immediate disappearance from the public was as a result of him meeting with regulators in the country but that meeting certainly didn’t yield a positive outcome considering the new US$2.8B fine on the business.
The government on Saturday said Alibaba had used anti-competitive practices in its online retail market.
The fine was equal to about 4% of Alibaba’s annual sales in China, according to Xinhua News , a quasi-state media outlet. Local news reports said the company would be required for three years to complete “self-inspection” reports that it would then submit to the watchdog.
“Alibaba accepts the penalty with sincerity and will ensure its compliance with determination,” the company said Saturday in a press release .
It added: “To serve its responsibility to society, Alibaba will operate in accordance with the law with utmost diligence, continue to strengthen its compliance systems and build on growth through innovation.”
There was also an open letter published by the company to its customers where it made it known that it had “fully cooperated” with the investigation.
“Alibaba would not have achieved our growth without sound government regulation and service, and the critical oversight, tolerance and support from all of our constituencies have been crucial to our development,” the company said.
The 18 billion yuan fine was a record for China, surpassing the $975 million fine issued to Qualcomm in 2015, as Reuters reported at the time.
AliBaba will hold a conference call on Monday where it will discuss the penalty and how it’ll go about it.
There have been different conspiracy theories about the sudden vanishing of Jack Ma which seems to be common in China with Billionaires.
The country had been criticized by different human right organizations across the globe about how it treats its citizens as well as the issue of freedom of speech in the country.