May 18, 2024

Chen Shaojie, the chairman and CEO of leading Chinese gaming live-streaming platform Douyu, has been arrested. The NASDAQ-listed company confirmed the previously-reported news in a regulatory filing late on Tuesday.

DouYu said that it was informed that Chen was arrested by police in Chengdu “on or about Nov. 16.” Reputable Chinese and international media previously reported that he had been missing for at least three weeks and had been away from public view since August.

In China, suspects in criminal cases are often detained for weeks or months prior to their formal arrest. Authorities feel no obligation to report detentions. Formal arrests almost inevitably lead to charges and convictions.

The Chengdu police used social media on Wednesday to report that a 39-year-old man surnamed Chen was arrested on suspicion of opening a casino. The reports were also carried by state-owned news agency Xinhua.

DouYu, which operates live streaming services built around the playing of online games, said it its Tuesday statement that it knows little about the reasons for Chen’s detention and arrest.

“The company has not received any official notice of the investigation against Mr. Chen or the reasons for Mr. Chen’s apparent arrest. The company cannot comment on the nature or expected timeline of subsequent legal proceedings, if any, that may follow. Mr. Chen’s ongoing detention and any subsequent related legal proceedings and enforcement actions against the parties involved may have a material adverse impact on the company’s reputation, business and results of operations,” the filing said.

“The company maintains normal operation of its business and remains committed to upholding regulatory compliance on its platform. The board and management will supervize the operations of the company and work on contingency plans in response to Mr. Chen’s arrest and related investigations.” 

The earlier reports alleged that Chen’s disappearance was related to discovery by authorities of pornography and gambling content on the platform. Both are illegal in mainland China.

In May, internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, made an unusual in-person visit to Douyu-controlled premises in Hubei Province as part of a probe into the company’s alleged hosting of pornography and other vulgar content. The findings of its investigations have not been published.

State-owned China Daily went further and reported that the CAC took control of the platform for a month from May. “Douyu is being punished for failing to manage posts from its users, resulting in the spread online of harmful content, including pornography, as well as posts deemed superstitious, or about prostitution, gambling and high-interest lending,” it said at the time.

In early 2021, U.S.-based investment firm and short-selling specialist Grizzly Reports published research which alleged that DouYu was permitting the illegal hosting of online lotteries created by users.

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