A Chinese-born billionaire who has forged financial ties with some of the country’s most powerful families was taken by the Chinese police from his apartment at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong late last week and spirited across the border, a person close to the businessman said on Tuesday.
Mr. Xiao, a prodigy who passed the examination to enter the elite Peking University at age 14, controls a sprawling empire with shares in banks, insurance companies, coal, cement and property through his Tomorrow Group. The Hurun Report, which tracks Chinese billionaires, estimated his fortune last year at 40 billion renminbi, or $5.8 billion. But that vastly understates his wealth, said the person close to Mr. Xiao.
Mr. Xiao’s fortunes rose after his graduation from the university in 1990, where he had been head of the official student organization and stayed loyal to the government during the pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989.
In recent years, Mr. Xiao has acted as a kind of banker to the ruling class