ofo CEO Dai Wei placed on government blacklist for debt default

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Ofo CEO Dai Wei has been put on a government blacklist for not fulfilling his payment obligations, effectively restricting him from the purchase of high-end goods and services, including certain types of railway and airline travel.

In addition to Dai, ofo itself has also been placed on the blacklist.

The ruling came on Dec. 4, but the finding was only picked up by Chinese media Thursday.

The ban, which also extends to the purchase of some forms of real estate, is the latest in a series of blows for the founder and his company. ofo has been on a downward spiral in recent months, and has been forced to heavily curtail its international presence amid a biting cash crunch.

In recent days, ofo users have flooded its offices in Beijing as well as its app, requesting that their deposits be returned.

A statement from Haidian District People’s Court in Beijing gave details of the scope of the ban, noting that Dai would be required to get approval from the court before participating in any of the “excessive spending” activities listed.

These included: sending his children to private schools, purchasing certain types of insurance or wealth management products, and buying cars.

Dai is also not allowed to travel or go on vacation, travel in business class by air or rail, purchase property or undertake expensive renovations to existing properties.

In response to the news, some Chinese media outlets were quick to point out that the blacklist doesn’t prohibit Dai from traveling abroad, implying that he could still find ways to flee the country, should he so decide.

Dai must also refrain from renting out apartments or high-end office space, and not spend excessively on hotels, clubs or golf courses, the court statement said.

ofo had received in excess of 11 million deposit refund requests as of yesterday afternoon.

“News like this suggests we may not have a chance to bring our money back,” user @FrankyZhai posting on microblogging platform Weibo.

ofo partners with nine online lenders amid cash strain

Dai isn’t the first high-profile CEO to be put on such a blacklist. In December 2017, Jia Yueting, former head of Le.com and co-founder of electric vehicle firm Faraday Future (FF), was added to the debt defaulters blacklist.

Six months later, he was banned from buying “luxury” goods and travel for a year, including air and high-speed rail tickets. Jia failed to abide by a court order holding him responsible for Le.com’s debts. He fled to the US in late 2017.

With contributions from Christopher Udemans and Jill Shen.