Speculation is rife on the whereabouts of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma after reports emerged that he has not made a public appearance in more than two months.
The founder of the giant tech firm, Alibaba, also did not appear as planned in the last episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes, which gives promising African entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete for a slice of $1.5 million.
Ma was supposed to be part of the team of judges but he was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the final held in November, UK’s Telegraph reported.
According to the Financial Times, Ma was dressed down by officials in Beijing after gave a candid speech criticising China’s regulators and its state-owned banks.
A spokesperson for Alibaba said Ma was unable to take part on the judging panel because of a schedule conflict.
Ma’s empire, Ant Group, has faced deepening scrutiny by Beijing since the billionaire made a controversial speech in Shanghai in October accusing government regulators of stifling innovation.
He is said to have likened global banking rules to an “people’s club.”