Founder of China’s embattled LeEco placed on debt blacklist
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The high-profile founder of struggling Chinese tech conglomerate LeEco has been placed on an official blacklist of debt defaulters, a further blow to a firm that had spent heavily to compete in areas from smart cars to online entertainment.
Jia Yueting had his name and ID number splashed on China’s defaulter website after failing to satisfy a court order to pay Ping An Securities Group (Holdings) Ltd more than 470 million yuan ($71 million), according to a notice dated Dec. 11.
The move underscores the abrupt fall from grace of one of China’s most prominent entrepreneurs, who created a tech empire ranging from a Netflix-like online content platform to a smart-car unit looking to rival electric car giant Telsa Inc.
The latest twist – which follows court cases and Jia being ousted as chief executive of the main listed unit of the group he founded – is symbolic more than anything else of the firm’s wider demise.
Being named on the list means a person can be restricted from frequenting luxury hotels, purchasing airline and high-speed train tickets, going to golf courses, sending their kids to expensive schools and even shopping online for luxury goods.
Representatives of LeEco and Jia were not immediately available to comment on the report.
The entertainment, electronics and electric vehicles group has struggled to pay its debts after rapid expansion led to a cash crunch, share price plunge and multiple defaults.
Jia expanded his business from its video-streaming roots 13 years ago to include telephones, televisions and cars, and had even looked to push into the United States. At its peak LeEco owed creditors 10 billion yuan.
Jia was still talking about his dream to “revolutionise the auto industry” via his start-up Faraday Future after he stepped down as CEO from listed Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp Beijing in July.
The Supreme People’s Court set up the debt defaulter website in 2013 to speed up compliance with verdicts and make court work more transparent.
Media reported in August that LeEco was in the midst of paying back an overdue loan and was discussing repayments of a larger loan with China Construction Bank Corp.
LeEco’s troubles first came to light in 2016 when Jia said the firm had “big-company disease”.