Chinese court freezes Bullet Messenger backer Smartisan’s bank account

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A Beijing court has frozen Chinese smartphone maker and Bullet Messenger backer Smartisan’s bank account, which contained RMB 4.5 million (around $650,000) in assets.

The judgment was made late last month but released to the public on Tuesday.

According to court documents, a company named Sound Solutions International (SSI) filed an application on Nov. 26, requesting the Daxing People’s Court in Beijing freeze Smartisan’s China Merchant Bank account.

Smartisan was not immediately available for comment.

SSI joins other suppliers in claiming Smartisan owes it money. Earlier this month, a company from Tianjin said the smartphone manufacturer was in arrears of up to RMB 20 million. Chinese media reported that hundreds of employees from Smartisan’s suppliers repeatedly gathered outside its office in Beijing asking for payment.

The company has faced reports of mounting debt, office closures, massive layoffs, and unpaid wages over the past few months. It was reportedly unable to pay its employees’ November salaries.

“In situations where companies run out of cash, the company can’t magically create cash out of thin air to pay them,” James Hull, a private investor, previously told TechNode.

The company has recently undergone a leadership shakeup, with CEO Luo Yonghao replaced as legal representative and 10 top executives stripped of their directorships.

Reports claimed the company’s office in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu was in the process of closing down, with around a hundred employees being laid off. Smartisan denied the news.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Smartisan backs Bullet Messenger creators Kuairu, not operates the messaging app as originally posted.