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Chinese firm’s missing wealth manager was 'meditating in the Gobi’

The chairman of a Chinese e-financing firm suspected of having fled with 1 billion yuan ($153 million) of investors' money has emerged to say he has not absconded but was merely meditating in the Gobi Desert over the firm's direction.

Yang Weiguo, chairman of peer-to-peer online lending platform Wangzhou Fortune, on Monday said he would be "right back" after staff and clients failed to contact him for several days. Local media reported that he was in Xinjiang.

Yang is at the center of the latest saga concerning China's shadow banking and e-finance sector.

Wangzhou Fortune revealed last Thursday that it had lost contact with Yang and reported the matter to Shanghai police.

It said the firm had collected 2.2 billion yuan in all from its investors, and that Yang had taken 1 billion yuan with him. Yang is also chairman of Wangzhou Group, the parent company of Wangzhou Fortune.

But in a six-second video posted on 21st Century Business Herald's website on Monday, Yang said: "Hello everyone, it's me. No need to be worried, I will be right back."

Yang also posted a letter on WeChat telling his staff that he would go to the local police station to cooperate with their investigations, the newspaper said.

"I decided to clear my mind by travelling for 10 days, cutting all telecommunications contact and being undisturbed ... to think over strategies and rebuild confidence," the letter read, adding that he was shocked and angered over the accusation that he had fled with investors' money.

A vice-general manager of the firm confirmed the letter and said police were on the case.

Yang's response came after state-run Xinhua reported late on Sunday that Hangzhou police were searching for him.

More from the South China Morning Post :

China's HK$59 billion online Ponzi scheme: who started it, how did it happen and now what?
Terror funding and money laundering targeted as China takes tough approach to internet finance
Zhou Shiyu: one of China's many losers, who invested one million yuan in unlicensed Shanghai online P2P lender

Founded in 2014, Wangzhou Fortune markets itself as an investment firm that provides services including investment management and consultancy. It has nearly 100 branches across China.

But the firm had seen cash flow problems since last week, Xinhua cited Hangzhou police as saying.

China has stepped up its crackdown on illicit financing in recent months after a series of high-profile scandals, in which P2P operators and asset management firms were alleged to have illegally taken deposits or defrauded investors.

In one of the cases, Shanghai police took away more than 20 people from Shanghai-based Zhongjin Capital Management this month as part of an investigation into a suspected Ponzi scheme thought to have raised over 30 billion yuan.

In the biggest case so far, Beijing police arrested 21 executives at Ezubao, once China's biggest P2P lending platform that collected US$7.6 billion from more than 900,000 investors in less than two years.

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