China hits the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba with a record fine of 18.23 billion yuan (equal to 2.33 billion euros) for violations of antitrust rules. The amount of the fine is equivalent to 4% of the group’s revenues in 2019, and the sanction represents the highest point of the crackdown against the large Chinese tech conglomerates, which also sees the other giant founded by Jack Ma, the fintech arm of Alibaba, Ant Group. Beijing’s financial authorities have been targeting the practice since 2015 of forcing traders to choose a single platform. In this way, the note reads, Alibaba has limited competition in the market for online retail services platforms in China, hampered the innovation and development of the platform economy and harmed the interests of consumers, constituting ” an abuse of the dominant position on the market “.

In response, Alibaba said it accepted the fine and complied with the supervisory body’s instructions, and announced a conference call on Monday morning (in China) to discuss the sanction. “We will strengthen operations in accordance with the law and further strengthen the construction of a compliance system based on innovation and development, and better fulfill our social responsibilities,” the group wrote on its account. Weibo, the most popular social network in China. The fine imposed on the e-commerce giant is the highest ever imposed in China, surpassing that on Qualcomm in 2015, when the US telecommunications technology group was sanctioned by Chinese anti-trust authorities for $ 975 million.

Jack Ma’s empire has been under intense scrutiny since last October, when the tycoon angered Chinese financial authorities with a highly critical speech delivered to Shanghai. The founder of Alibaba and Ant Group was summoned together with the leaders of the fintech giant in Beijing on November 2, and the $ 37 billion maxi-IPO of Ant Group had been suspended a few hours after the double debut on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.

Following pressure from Beijing, Ant Group has started working on a plan to adjust its activities in line with the provisions of the Chinese financial authorities, which want to transform the fintech giant into a financial holding, subjecting it to capital requirements similar to those in force for banks.

The investigation into Alibaba for “suspected monopoly behavior” had, however, officially begun at the end of December, a few days after the closure of the Central Conference on Economic Work, in which Chinese leaders had pledged to counter “the chaotic expansion of capital” and they had promised an iron fist against monopolistic practices and unfair competition. After the investigation began, the Chinese billionaire, for years at the top of the ranking of the richest men in the country, had disappeared from the scene for a few weeks, fueling suspicions about his fate. Ma’s last public appearance dates back to January, when the tycoon had participated, via video link, in an event organized by the foundation that bears his name.

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