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Zhao Weiguo, the former head of an expansive Chinese conglomerate with state-backing and investments in the global technology sector, has been placed under investigation by officials in Beijing, according to local media.

The 54-year-old, who led cash-strapped chipmaking giant Tsinghua Unigroup for a decade, has been out of contact after being taken from his home by authorities in mid-July, reported Caixin, a respected Chinese business publication.

The Financial Times has not independently verified the case. Tsinghua did not immediately comment. No further details on the investigation were provided.

The report of Zhao’s detention comes after years of intensifying scrutiny of state-backed Tsinghua by investors and the Chinese government after Zhao struggled to repay and refinance the company’s large debts.

The company originated from Beijing’s Tsinghua University, China’s most prestigious engineering school, in the late 1980s. Zhao took control in 2009.

He climbed from obscurity herding animals in Xinjiang, China’s western region, to study at Tsinghua in the 1980s. He went on to make a fortune in property and forged ties with senior members of the Chinese government.

Zhao benefited from state backing during the administration of Hu Jintao and is believed to maintain a close personal relationship with the former president’s son, Hu Haifeng, according to analysis by Cercius Group, a Montreal-headquartered consultancy specialising in elite Chinese politics.