A turbulent year for Chinese surveillance giant Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology got even worse with the company’s announcement that two of its billionaire directors are under investigation by the country’s securities regulator on suspicion of flouting disclosure rules.
The allegations concern Gong Hongjia, Hikvision’s vice chairman and largest individual shareholder, and Hu Yangzhong, its general manager. According to Forbes, Gong has a net worth of $8.7 billion and is China’s 26th richest person, while Hu’s net worth stands at $1.5 billion and he is the country’s 265th richest person.
Hikvision gave no further details of the probe in a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange dated Thursday, but said it will “actively cooperate” with the regulator and “strictly adhere to the demands of the regulator in promptly carrying out its information disclosure obligations.”
Hikvision did not respond to Caixin’s request for comment by the time of publication.
The investigation caps off a turbulent year for the world’s largest provider of surveillance systems. Last month, the United States put Hikvision onto a government “Entity List” for allegedly supplying equipment to police in the far western region of Xinjiang, where Washington says China is carrying out rights abuses against Muslim minorities.
The U.S. decision, which significantly restricts Hikvision’s access to American suppliers, drew opposition from the company at the time. Beijing has consistently denied allegations of abuses in Xinjiang.
Prior to its formal blacklisting, Hikvision had already drawn the suspicions of U.S. officials. Since last year, American government institutions have been clearing their systems of technology produced by the security camera-maker as well as by three other Chinese tech companies that some believe may be uncomfortably cozy with the Chinese government: Huawei, ZTE, and Dahua.
But that seems easier said than done: Many U.S. government systems were still found to be using Hikvision products even after a deadline for rooting out the technology elapsed in August.
Shenzhen-listed Hikvision’s shares were down 2.84% at 33.24 yuan as of 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (firstname.lastname@example.org)