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Top Chinese businessman talking to authorities in possible corruption probe after 'vanishing'

The head of Chinese conglomerate Fuson Group is cooperating with authorities into a possible corruption investigation. Guo Guangchang reportedly disappeared Thursday.

The Fuson Group said in a statement on Friday its chairman was cooperating with authorities in what is widely believed to be an investigation into corruption.

"The company understands that Mr. Guois currently assisting in certain investigations carried out by Mainland judiciary authorities," the group said in a statement.

Guo was reportedly picked up by police at the Shanghai airport on Thursday and had been unheard from since, prompting shares in Fuson Group to be suspended on Friday.

The company said shares would resume trading on Monday.

Believed to be worth more than $5.6 billion (5 billion euros), Guo's possible questioning makes him one of the highest-profile businessmen to be under investigation in a Chinese anti-corruption campaign.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched an anti-corruption drive that has brought down a long list of senior and lower-level Communist party officials.

While the probes have mainly been focused on corruption in the party, they have boiled over into investigations of the financial sector following the collapse of a bubble earlier this year. Those investigations led to a number of financial bosses temporarily disappearing.

Among those charged in the corruption probes was Wang Zongnan, the head of the state-controlled retailer Bailian. Wang was sentenced in August to 18 years in prison on charges of misusing corporate money. The court's verdict said that he had a working relationship with Guo.

A Fosun subsidiary has a major stake in Bailian.

Chinese news portal Sohu said authorities were questioning Guo over an investigation into Ai Baojin, the former vice mayor of Shanghai and head of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

The Fosun Group has investments in property, finance, pharmaceuticals, steel and entertainment.

The company has also been on a buying binge of foreign assets, including the French resort company Club Med, Canadian entertainment giant Cirque du Soleil, and has a stake in the British travel company Thomas Cook.

Guo also has business ties in Germany, including to Hamburg fashion brand Tom Tailor and private bank Hauck & Aufhäuser.

cw/jil (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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