China Central Television, China’s state broadcaster, has implicated Ant Group in a corruption scandal, increasing the pressure on the embattled tycoon after a year of crackdowns that have dented the valuations of various Alibaba-related companies, reports the Financial Times. A documentary on the state-run broadcaster alleged that private companies made “unreasonably high payments” to the brother of the former Communist party head of Hangzhou, an eastern city that is home to Ant Group’s headquarters, in return for government policy incentives and support with buying real estate.
According to public records and two sources close to the deals, a unit of Ant Group bought two plots of land at a discount in Hangzhou in 2019 after taking stakes in two mobile payment businesses owned by the party secretary’s younger brother that were named in the documentary.
While the documentary did not name Jack Ma’s company, the Ant unit was the only external corporate investor in one of these businesses, according to the public records, and was among three corporate investors in the second.
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