Nomura banker Charles Wang banned from leaving China: FT

Nomura

A veteran Hong Kong-based banker with a leading Japanese financial services group has been banned from leaving mainland China, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

Charles Wang Zhonghe, chairman of investment banking for China at Nomura International (Hong Kong) Ltd, was not in detention but banned from travelling outside mainland China, the report said, citing an unnamed source.

The report said the ban was related to Beijing’s ongoing investigation of Bao Fan, the country’s most high-profile tech deal maker.

Bao’s company, China Renaissance Holdings, also one of China’s biggest investment banks, said in early August that Bao was cooperating with Chinese officials in an unspecified investigation. He was last seen in public in February.

Bao is the founder and chairman of Renaissance and is known for brokering mergers for China’s largest tech firms, including riding-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, food delivery app Meituan and online travel agency Trip.com.

His disappearance sent a chill through the mainland internet and financial sectors.

The Times’ report on Wang comes as Beijing tries to reassure international investors that it is committed to opening its markets and dispel concerns about China’s recently amended anti-espionage law.

Nomura did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Exit bans are a way for Chinese authorities to prevent individuals, most often Chinese tycoons or prominent political dissidents, from leaving the mainland.

The target of the exit ban is often not notified that they are under the restriction until they try to cross the border.

Wang is the latest in a series of prominent business figures banned from leaving the country or who have disappeared suddenly amid Beijing’s tightened controls on the private sector.

Exit bans were among the reasons the US State Department cited in an advisory in June urging US citizens to reconsider travelling to mainland China.

“There may be no available legal process to contest an exit ban in a court of law,” it said.

While the criteria for being placed on an exit ban list are not known publicly, they could include anyone who is involved in criminal or civil lawsuits or investigations under Chinese law.

A range of agencies, including police, state security authorities, courts and prosecutors can impose an exit ban. Chinese authorities have never publicly shared the number and the identities of the people on the list.

Chinese billionaire tech banker Bao Fan reportedly missing, sending Renaissance shares tumbling

Before joining Nomura in 2018, Wang was the deputy CEO at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), one of China’s big four state-owned commercial banks.

Trained in engineering and economics, Wang started his financial career at Wall Street investment firm Merrill Lynch in New York, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He moved back to Hong Kong in 1996 and worked for Deutsche Bank for a number of years.

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