The whereabouts of Bao Fan, a prominent Chinese investment banker and founder of China Renaissance, remain unknown after he disappeared earlier this month.
According to sources familiar with his plans, Bao had been preparing to move some of his fortune from China and Hong Kong to Singapore in the months leading up to his disappearance. Bao was reportedly establishing a family office in Singapore to manage his personal wealth, following a growing trend among Chinese executives who view the city-state as a haven to park their money amid regulatory changes in China’s tech sector and an anti-corruption crackdown.
Bao’s disappearance has caused concern in international financial and business circles in China at a time when Beijing is trying to present a more business-friendly image.
Bao, who co-founded China Renaissance in 2005, had made it one of China’s top financial institutions, often winning tech deals from larger Wall Street rivals.
It is unclear whether Bao successfully set up a family office in Singapore, or if the process is still ongoing. Singapore has seen a significant rise in demand for setting up family office funds and applying for tax incentives, leading to long wait times.
While it is difficult to move capital out of mainland China, many wealthy individuals have assets in places such as Hong Kong, where it is easier to shift money.
The number of family offices launched in Singapore by Chinese nationals has increased, and many from the mainland have relocated to the city over the same period.
However, the lack of regulation and oversight around family offices in Singapore has raised concerns. Some individuals reportedly use their children’s or spouse’s names as directors, while the Monetary Authority of Singapore does not license or regulate them as they are not managing third-party money.