Chinese state television CCTV on Jan. 19 premiered another episode of the Chinese regime’s corruption documentary.
The story featured former Hangzhou party secretary Zhou Jiangyong, who was arrested last August. He is accused of helping an unnamed company buy land at low prices and gain preferential policies.
The unidentified company was said to have paid Zhou “unreasonably high payments” in shares through his younger brother’s firms.
According to the episode, the younger Zhou had been able to seize contracts to build subway mobile payment systems in Ningbo and Wenzhou because he relied on his brother’s political position.
Zhou Jiangyong admitted in the documentary, “He won the business because I was a government official.”
Citing public data and two sources related to the deals, Financial Times claimed that the undisclosed company in the corruption program was Ant Group.
The group is an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba whose founder is Jack Ma. The Headquarters of both companies are located in Hangzhou.
The Financial Times said that a unit of Ant Group acquired two land plots at a low price in Hangzhou in 2019. This transaction occurred after it bought shares in Zhou’s younger brother’s two mobile payment businesses.
Public records also show that Ant group has been the only external investor in one of the companies controlled by Zhou’s brother.
In that, Ant Group’s subsidiary, Shanghai Yunxin Venture Capital Management Co, spent up to $268,000 on 14.3% of the stocks and board seats in the company founded by Zhou’s brother in March 2019.
Although the CCTV documentary did not directly name Ant Group or Alibaba, Shanghai Yunxin Venture Capital Management Co’s subsidiary was mentioned.
Nie Huihua, a professor at Renmin University in Beijing, stated, “The rise and fall of Ant epitomizes the unequal relationship between business and politics in China.”