Colin Huang is still a very rich man, estimated to be worth $35 billion by Bloomberg. But the founder of Chinese e-commerce business Pinduoduo also has the distinction of having lost more money this year than anyone else in the world—more than $27 billion. That is by far the biggest decline on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index for 2021. Huang stepped down as chairman of the company in March, but that doesn't explain the steep plunge in his bank account. Instead, a big part appears to be the new push by Chinese leader Xi Jinping for "common prosperity"—that is, he wants China's uber-rich to spread their wealth around.
Huang, for example, has transferred blocks of shares in his company worth billions to philanthropic groups, reports Forbes. Other Chinese execs and their companies (including Tencent and Alibaba) having been making similar donations in a bid to stave off government penalties and deeper interference with their businesses. One result is that six of the 10 billionaires with the biggest annual declines in wealth in 2021 come from China. All of which raises a sticky question for anyone who considers investing in the country, writes Yue Wang of Forbes: "Who now has the ultimate control of these companies’ profits and assets?" (Read more billionaires stories.)