One of the Richest Men in China Has Gone Missing

By Juliet Song
Juliet Song
Juliet Song
January 11, 2016 Updated: January 13, 2016

A Chinese billionaire has gone missing, and he’s not the first. Zhou Chengjian, head of of Chinese famous fashion apparel Shanghai Metersbonwe Fashion & Accessories has been missing since Jan.7 along with his secretary, Tu Ke. His company froze its shares on the Shenzhen stock market, to stop any further losses.

Zhou disappeared abruptly. Staff at his company told Chinese news outlets that he attended a meeting just one day prior, on Jan. 6.

It’s very likely that Zhou was arrested. He was the latest Chinese tycoon being investigated in the “anti-corruption” campaign of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping, which has in its latest wave targeted the financial sector—which followed the malicious short-selling of Chinese stocks in July.

Other billionaires have already been taken down, including Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fuson Group, a gigantic Chinese conglomerate and investment company; and Xu Xiang, the private placement investor known as the “number one boss of Private Funds.”

Both Guo and Xu were suspected of enjoying intricate ties with the family and key aides of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin—as have a large portion of other individuals taken down in the anti-corruption campaign.

If Zhou was arrested, it’s still unclear why. But reports in Chinese news outlets point to his relationship with Xu, who was charged for insider trading, manipulating the stock market, and for “malicious short-selling.”

Xu became the third largest stockholder in Zhou’s company, Metersbonwe, by September 2014, and had purchased five percent of its total subscribed capital stock. Zexi investment had dumped its shares of Metersbonwe, and leading up to China’s finance-quade last July—and under Xu’s charge—CITIC Securities Co. Ltd, a leading investment bank in China which was engaging with saving the market, bought these stocks.

Zhou established Metersbonwe in 1995, at Wenzhou, Zhejiang. The casual wear fashion company found a market with young consumers, and was outsourcing its manufacturing and retail business, while focusing on design, development, and marketing.

This wouldn’t be Zhou’s first violation. When Zhou was just 16, he earned $45,500 in a business reselling silver dollars in his hometown in Zhejiang province, according to Southern Weekly, a Guangzhou-based weekly newspaper. His first bucket of money was confiscated by authorities, and he was convicted of “Speculation and profiteering,” and since he was too young, his father spent a year in jail.

Forbes listed Zhou as number 61 on its 2015 China rich list, with net worth of $2.4 billion. His company that once thrived is now struggling. From the first half of 2015, Metersbonwe announced a $ 14.9 million loss, with its sales dropping 7.8 percent. In 2014, nearly 800 of its storefronts were closed.

Juliet Song