Once again, a Chinese billionaire is not available to either his family or his company. Banker Bao Fan, who is important for the tech industry, is apparently being questioned by investigators. His company’s share price plummets.

Influential businessmen have been disappearing in China for several years. Most of them reappear later – either at liberty or in court. But some are still missing. Now another billionaire has been hit: Bao Fan. With his investment company China Renaissance Holding, he is one of the most important financiers in the Chinese tech industry. Bao has helped launch numerous internet startups in China, including e-commerce firm JD.com. He was involved as a consultant in mega-mergers in the tech industry in the People’s Republic.

The business magazine “Caixin” initially reported that Bao had not been available for two days. His Beijing-based company then issued a notice on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange saying it was unable to contact Bao. The share price then collapsed. Phrases such as “unavailable” or “no contact possible” are often used as euphemisms in China when people are questioned by investigators. According to the financial news agency “Bloomberg”, the 53-year-old’s family has been informed that Bao is involved in the investigation.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Bao is under investigation. It is quite possible that the businessman will be questioned as a witness. Or at least that is what is claimed. This was the case, for example, with Zhou Chengijan. The founder of the fashion chain Metersbonwe could not be found and his company could no longer be reached by telephone. According to the China Daily newspaper, he was arrested to help investigators investigate possible share price manipulation. A short time later he returned. The company is no longer managed by him, but by his daughter.

The real reason for the disappearance may never be made public. Some of the businessmen reappear later – without saying a word about why they were gone. This also applies to Jack Ma, the founder of the online giant Alibaba and at times by far the richest Chinese. After Ma publicly criticized the financial authorities as slowing down innovation, the financial regulator canceled the IPO of Alibaba’s financial vehicle Ant Group at the last minute in early November – it would have been the largest IPO in the world to date. Ma then disappeared from the public eye for a few weeks for reasons that have not yet been clarified. When he reappeared, he announced that he wanted to focus more on charitable projects in the future.

The background: The leadership of the Communist Party wants to assert its absolute claim to power. After taking office in March 2013, President Xi Jinping initially announced that he would take action against corruption. Since then, the Central Disciplinary Commission of the Communist Party has worked diligently. Tens of thousands of civil servants, state managers and functionaries were brought to justice.

At first, the measures focused on China’s state-owned companies, heads of administration and the army. Later, the financial sector and the tech giants came into focus – the arrests of hedge fund billionaire “Big Xu” and Chinese-Canadian businessman Xiao Jianhua belong in this context. Their arrests were cinematic: the police arrested “Big Xu” while he was in the car on his way to his grandmother’s. To do this, she blocked one of the most important and spectacular bridges in the country for half an hour.

But that was nothing compared to Xiao Jianhua’s arrest. He was taken out of a luxury hotel in Hong Kong – according to the images from a surveillance camera, sitting in a wheelchair with a blanket or sheet over his head. And that despite the fact that the then 44-year-old billionaire had always been without a wheelchair until then. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption last August. Xu was also not heard from again until he was tried and imprisoned for stock market manipulation.

The state leadership primarily targeted conglomerates such as Xiao’s Tomorrow Group, which was active in numerous business areas from banks to commodities. Last summer, the authorities announced that Tomorrow would be “restructured,” taking control of nine subsidiaries. Apparently, the opaque network of companies had grown so large that the government saw it as a threat to the financial stability of the People’s Republic.

The company, run by the now-disappeared Bao, said there was nothing to suggest his absence was related to the company’s operations. The company’s president, Cong Lin, was arrested last fall. According to Caixin magazine, he is under investigation in connection with his previous work for the finance leasing arm of the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank (ICBC).

Renaissance’s investment bank chief tried to calm the situation on Friday morning. “Good morning (…) I think everyone had a sleepless night,” he wrote in a circular email to employees obtained by the Financial Times. He urged staff not to believe rumours. “In such a critical moment” everyone must have confidence in the company and the management. At the same time, he admitted that the “available information” is currently “limited”.