Chinese e-commerce company Dangdang has accused one of its co-founders of an illegitimate power grab through unauthorized activities.
In a statement Sunday, the company said Li Guoqing and several others had stolen dozens of official seals in an attempt to take over operations. The statement added that the seals were invalid, effective immediately, and that all contracts and agreements stamped with them were nullified.
In February of last year, Li announced he was no longer involved in Dangdang’s operations or holding any positions on the company’s board, according to multiple media reports. Months later, Li and his wife Yu Yu, the company’s other co-founder, had a spat over shares during their divorce settlement.
According to domestic media reports, Li posted a printed notice in Dangdang’s office on Sunday announcing that he had been elected Dangdang’s chairman and general manager, and was therefore responsible for the company’s management following a shareholders’ meeting on April 24. The notice also accused Yu of creating losses and having a “negative impact” on the company, adding that she would no longer serve as Dangdang’s executive director, legal representative, or general manager.
However, Kan Min, Dangdang’s vice president, said Yu is still in charge of the company with a 52.23% stake, and Li currently doesn’t hold any positions at Dangdang, according to The Beijing News. Kan said Li’s takeover claim is illegal, and that none of the company's board members were notified, nor had they attended the meeting in question.
According to Kan, Li broke into the company’s office with his four bodyguards and secretary, who knew where the official seals were stored.
Li, meanwhile, said he entered the office with some of the company’s current employees and a lawyer, according to The Beijing News.
In an audio clip released by the media outlet, a man believed to be Li is heard saying that seizing the official seals was the “first step” toward reclaiming the company. “I received support from some shareholders and hold more than 51% of the stakes,” he said.
In a post Monday on microblogging platform Weibo, Li dismissed the accusations that he had stolen Dangdang’s seals, maintaining that he had simply taken possession of them following the shareholder’s meeting where he received majority support to helm the company.
On Sunday night, Li put up another notice — this one formally stamped — saying the shareholders and board of directors had decided to make him the general manager and chairman of the company, according to domestic media. The notice added that any statement from the company without an official seal would be invalid.
Li and Yu co-founded Dangdang in 1999 as an online bookstore. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010, becoming the first Chinese e-commerce site to be listed in the U.S., preceding big names like Alibaba and JD.com. Dangdang was delisted in 2016.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: Li Guoqing and Yu Yu tour the New York Stock Exchange, Dec. 8, 2010. Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images/People Visual)