Chinese authorities have arrested 21 executives from the country's largest peer-to-peer money lending platform on suspicion of stealing money from nearly a million investors – which could make it the world's largest Ponzi scheme.
Reports from local media suggest investors have lost 50bn yuan (£5.3bn), which managers at Euzbao stole from around 900,000 investors.
If true, it would be China's largest ever case of investor fraud, both in value and the number of victims. By the number of victims, it would be the world's largest Ponzi scheme.
According to state run media outlet Xinhua, two suspects have already confessed while in police detention centres. Zhang Min, the former president of Yucheng Group, the lending scheme’s parent company, reportedly described the business as “a complete Ponzi scheme".
At least 21 suspects, including the scheme’s alleged high-flying mastermind, Ding Ning, were under arrest, Xinhua reported. The suspects are accused of luring in investors with false offers of double-digit annual returns – between nine and 14.6 per cent.
But according to Xinhua, as many as 95 per cent of the projects listed on the company's website were made up, according to a confession from Yong Lei, the company's risk controller.
Police opened an investigation into the business in December, and froze the company's assets at the same time.