Chinese authorities have restricted a senior executive at the American risk advisory firm Kroll from leaving mainland China.
Michael Chan, a Hong Kong-based managing director, is aiding an investigation into a case that dates back several years.
Sources indicated that neither Chan nor Kroll is the target of the investigation. Chan travelled to mainland China in July and subsequently informed his employer that he is unable to leave the country. However, Chan is permitted to move freely within mainland China and can continue his professional duties.
China frequently imposes exit bans on individuals who are either under investigation or assisting with governmental probes. Chan's situation serves as the latest instance of China enforcing exit bans on employees of foreign firms. In March of this year, Chinese authorities raided the Beijing offices of Mintz Group, detaining five New York-based staff members on the mainland, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The raid on Mintz Group's Beijing office was preceded by an exit ban placed on a Singaporean national. Although the authorities did not provide her with a reason for her ban, she was neither arrested nor accused of any wrongdoing. She was later able to leave China with assistance from Singapore's Foreign Ministry. Subsequently, Chinese authorities imposed financial penalties amounting to $1.5 million on the Beijing arm of Mintz Group for conducting unauthorised statistical work.
Exit bans can last for a variable duration, ranging from a few months to several years, as investigations may extend over lengthy periods. Sources revealed that a senior Hong Kong-based investment banker at Nomura has also been barred from leaving mainland China because he is cooperating with an investigation related to a former employer.
Borrelli Walsh, a firm specialising in restructurings and insolvencies, previously employed Chan. Kroll acquired Borrelli Walsh in late 2020 and maintains offices in five Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.