Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that the head of debt-laden Chinese developer Evergrande has been placed under house arrest, at a time when the group is facing increasing pressure from its creditors.
Evergrande's debt, whose difficulties have been making headlines for some time, at the end of June stood at $328 billion.
Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, said billionaire Xu Jiayin (also known by his Cantonese name Hui Ka Yan) was taken away earlier this month.
In mid-September, police in the southern city of Schengen said they had arrested a number of Evergrande employees, without specifying the charges against them.
China's real estate sector has grown rapidly in recent decades, with the sale of property even before it is built allowing financing for other projects, but the debt of real estate groups has reached levels that prompted the authorities to put an end to its expansion from 2020.
Since then, access to credit has declined dramatically for these groups, and some can no longer complete their projects, exacerbating the crisis of confidence among potential buyers and driving down prices.
This unprecedented crisis in recent months has affected another heavyweight in the sector, Country Garden, which was known for its financial durability.
On Sunday evening, Evergrande announced in a statement that it would not be able to issue new bonds because its Hengda real estate group is under investigation, which is currently hampering the restructuring plan aimed at ensuring its sustainability.
In 2017, Xu Jiayin was Asia's richest man, with an estimated net worth of $45.3 billion.
But since his group's setbacks, his wealth has plummeted to $4.3 billion in 2022, according to Huron's billionaire ranking.