It appears that the Chinese government may finally be getting serious about cracking down on financial sector fraud. On Sunday, Xu Xiang, a Chinese fund manager known as Big Xu and referred to as “China’s Carl Icahn” in the Chinese media, has been arrested for stock fraud in Hangzhou in eastern China.

 

China's Carl Icahn
China’s Carl Icahn

Details on arrest of China’s Carl Icahn

In the Chinese version of the OJ simpson standoff, Big Xu was arrested close to the exit of the 22-mile Hangzhou Bay Bridge. Media sources note that the authorities closed the extremely busy bridge’s entrances and exits for around a half an hour before the arrest.

Of note, Xu’s Zexi Investment, headquartered in Shanghai, has been embroiled in accusations starting back in September, when social media posts accused the firm of attempts at market manipulation. One post suggested that Zexi had ordered China’s largest brokerage, Citic Securities, to buy up shares of a money-losing Shanghai clothing retailer to boost the price to help out  several politically connected investors. Zexi denied all charges, saying the charges were “fabrications from nowhere and malicious attacks.”

China’s government news agency Xinhua issued a statement after the arrest Sunday, saying that “Xu Xiang and others are suspected of insider trading and other offenses and are in criminal detention.” The statement offered no further details, and did not confirm or deny the earlier Social media speculation.

Joanna Jiang, a public relations representative for Citic Securities, replied to an email query from the media, saying that Citic “does not comment on market rumors.” Zexi Investment was not answering the phone on Sunday or Monday. Moreover, police headquarters in Zhejiang Province also did not answer phone calls on Sunday.

Of note, the website of China National Radio published an article supposedly from the government’s Xinhua News Agency on Monday, reporting that a colleague of Xiang Xu had been shot and killed while attempting to escape from law enforcement. However, the account was retracted shortly thereafter and it apparently never appeared on Xinhua’s website. But no one knows wha happened as Bloomberg reports:

Chinese social media was set abuzz Monday morning by an unconfirmed report of a man associated with the insider trading probe who was shot and killed by police while trying to escape apprehension. The report was retracted less than an hour after being posted to various websites, including that of China National Radio. A person at China National Radio’s news department, who refused to give their name, said the police had informed the broadcaster that the information was untrue.

ZeroHedge notes that some of the returns of “China’s Carl Icahn” seem to have been too good to be true.  according to Zexi’s own website , the return of its various funds since 2010 is as high as 3944.9%, which would cause most rational investors to raise an eyebrow or two.

zexi P&L_0 China's Carl Icahn
China’s Carl Icahn

Bloomberg also recently highlighted the funds strong (although not as spectacular) returns in the chart which can be found at the top of the article.