"Today’s financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age," Ma said in the speech. "We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people. We must reform the current system," he had said.
Last month, it was reported that Ma's company Alibaba is being investigated by regulators on charges of monopolistic practices. “Acting on information, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has started an investigation on Alibaba Group for alleged monopoly conduct including implementing an ‘exclusive dealing agreement’,” Xinhua, China’s official news agency, announced in a single-sentence statement.
Ma also failed to appear in the final episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes, as scheduled, several reports surfaced questioning his whereabouts. Ma was supposed to be part of the judging panel on the show but was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the November final. In fact, his picture was also taken off the website. For the uninitiated, the talent show gives budding African entrepreneurs the chance to compete for a slice of US $1.5 million.
In November last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that officials in Beijing reprimanded Ma and suspended the $37 billion initial public offering (IPO) of his Ant Group on the direct order of President Jinping. Ma was also advised to remain in China before launching an anti-monopoly investigation into his AlibabaGroup Holding on Christmas Eve.
An AP report stated that the moves were part of the Communist Party's efforts to curb the influence of tech companies as they move into the financial services sector during a time when Beijing is looking to reduce financial risks. Chinese regulators ordered Ant Group to rectify its businesses and comply with regulatory requirements amid increased scrutiny of anti-monopoly practices in the country’s internet sector.