China's stock market watchdog vows to go after tycoons linked to 2015 stock market rout

HONG KONG - China on Friday (Feb 10) vowed to go after "capital market crocodiles" and bring them back to the mainland.

The capital market "won't allow big crocodiles to create winds and rains", and Beijing would not tolerate them "skinning or sucking the blood of retail investors", the South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted Mr Liu Shiyu, chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission, as saying.

Mr Liu's comments at an annual work meeting were published by the Chinese media outlet Caixin and indirectly confirmed that the disappearance of Hong Kong-based Chinese tycoon Xiao Jianhua was the result of China's campaign to place him under control, according to the SCMP report.

Mr Liu did not name any of the "crocodiles".

Sources told the SCMP that Mr Xiao, who left the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong on Jan 27, was assisting investigations relating to China's stock market rout. Chinese tycoons are believed to have direct and indirect control of enormous wealth, said the report.

China has been investigating the possible causes of the stock market rout in 2015, which wiped out about US$5 trillion (S$7 trillion) of share value, the report added.

Mr Liu has said he wants to stop hostile bids for stakes in listed Chinese companies by the Chinese tycoons, according to SCMP.

Mr Xiao is ranked 32nd on the 2016 Hurun China rich list, China's equivalent of the Forbes list, with a net worth of US$5.97 billion.

Some reports said he had been abducted from Hong Kong and taken to mainland China. A statement purportedly from him posted in a Hong Kong newspaper recently said he was seeking medical treatment "outside the country".

Hong Kong police had told Reuters that they were seeking more information from Chinese authorities.