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Chinese livestreamer says missing boss has been arrested

Shanghai, Nov 21 (AFP) Nov 21, 2023
Leading Chinese livestreaming platform DouYu said Tuesday its boss had been arrested, after having not been seen in public for weeks and following an investigation into illegal content on the site.

DouYu founder and CEO Chen Shaojie has not been seen since October, with industry insiders suggesting this was related to suspected gambling during a livestream, government-run outlet The Paper reported earlier this month.

On Tuesday the company said it had been told Chen was arrested "on or about November 16" in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

"The Company has not received any official notice of the investigation against Mr. Chen or the reasons for Mr. Chen's apparent arrest. The Company cannot comment on the nature or expected timeline of subsequent legal proceedings, if any, that may follow," DouYu said in a statement posted on its website.

It admitted the ongoing detention "may have a material adverse impact" on the company, but said it was operating normally.

DouYu is backed by Chinese tech giant Tencent and is US-listed with a market capitalisation of $268 million.

Livestreaming is a multimillion-dollar phenomenon in China, generating huge profits for e-commerce giants and popular influencers alike.

But Beijing has sought to crack down on perceived immoral content in the booming industry, launching probes into several top platforms and targeting prominent influencers.

Authorities conducted a sweeping investigation into DouYu in May over concerns about pornography and other "vulgar" content.

Several of China's leading financiers and businesspeople have fallen from grace in recent years, with an intense crackdown on alleged corruption pushed by President Xi Jinping showing no sign of abating.

Bao Fan, the billionaire chairman and executive director of investment bank China Renaissance, went missing this year and was later revealed to be "cooperating" with an official investigation.

The former boss of China's state-owned banking giant Everbright Group, Li Xiaopeng, was arrested last month on charges of taking bribes.

And in September, the former chairman and Chinese Communist Party chief of China Life Insurance, Wang Bin, was sentenced to life in prison for corruption.


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