Alibaba Exec Fired Over Alleged Nepotism and Accepting Gifts

An Alibaba executive has been fired over allegations of nepotism and accepting gifts from business partners.

According to multiple reports, Zhao Yan, who served as head of the e-commerce giant’s livestreaming arm Taobao Live, has been terminated after he allegedly used his position to help a third-party company secure a contract with the platform. He was also purported to have arranged for his girlfriend to get a job with that agency, where she was said to have been paid for her work.

What’s more, Zhao was accused of accepting gifts — including food and lodging — from other agencies, as well as accepting money at an external business conference. The company did not specify how it discovered the alleged activity.

The undated internal memo from the group’s human resources department that announced Zhao’s exit was obtained by Reuters and CNBC. Alibaba declined to respond to FN’s request for comment.

Alibaba has relied heavily on its livestreaming division to generate gross merchandise volume, which more than doubled from last year as reported in the e-tailer’s most recent quarterly financial results. In late May, the company logged a 7% gain in earnings per share to $1.30, versus analysts’ estimates of 87 cents a share. Revenues for the three-month period surged 22% to $16.1 billion, topping Wall Street’s bets of $15.2 billion.

The online giant added that the COVID-19 pandemic has led consumers to adopt a more digital approach to purchasing daily necessities and non-discretionary products. It ended March with 726 million users on its platform — up 72 million from the prior year and 15 million from the previous quarter — while monthly mobile active users improved 2.7% to 846 million.

Zhao’s exit marks the latest downfall in Alibaba’s top ranks: In April, Jiang Fan, president of marketplaces Taobao and Tmall, was demoted following an internal investigation into allegations of improper behavior. The executive — who was widely viewed as a potential successor to Alibaba Group CEO Zhang Yong — was said to have had relations with popular social media influencer Zhang Dayi. It was speculated that Jiang used his influence to provide special treatment to merchants associated with Ruhnn Holding Ltd., where Zhang served as the chief marketing officer.

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