LeEco Founder Remains In US, Refuses Order To Return To China

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LeEco founder Jia Yueting refused a state-issued order to return to China and personally settle the debts of his struggling tech group, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing a statement from the 44-year-old billionaire posted on social media platform WeChat. The entrepreneur said he must remain in the United States as he’s currently in the process of raising funds for keeping Faraday Future afloat, with the endeavor itself supposedly requiring his personal presence. The Beijing unit of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) that issued the order last week has yet to react to the development in any capacity.

Mr. Jia said his brother Jia Yuemin was asked to attend a meeting with the agency last Friday in order to provide the CSRC with an update on the matter but it’s currently unclear whether any such gathering ended up taking place. As part of the same communication, the businessman said he blames himself for LeEco’s current financial predicament and “the negative impact” it had on other companies in China, which is the main reason why the CSRC asked him to get personally involved in the crisis in the first place, citing a lack of corporate and legal responsibility LeEco showed to its suppliers and creditors. Mr. Jia said he’s still adamant to set the stage for “the production and timely delivery of the FF91,” a Faraday Future-made electric vehicle that’s currently said to be close to discontinuation as the startup is undergoing an exodus of disillusioned talent, according to recent reports. Mr. Jia is widely believed to be controlling the Los Angeles-based firm that doesn’t have a publicly acknowledged Chief Executive Officer, though the size of his stake in the business remains unclear.

Numerous units of LeEco were already publicly listed as debt defaulters in China, as was Mr. Jia himself. The future of the Chinese conglomerate remains unclear, though its consumer electronics division is understood to be a priority to its efforts to stay afloat and resume normal operations. Most industry watchers attribute the company’s current predicament to its aggressive expansion strategy that saw it overleverage its assets by taking over $1.5 billion in debt and investing it in long-term and moonshot projects that didn’t manage to pay off its matured loans.