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China hits Alibaba with record $2.8 billion fine

China slapped a record $2.8 billion fine on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. after an anti-monopoly probe found it abused its market dominance.

The Chinese government launched an investigation into Alibaba in December to determine whether the company was preventing merchants from selling their products on other platforms, reports TheVerge. China’s market regulator found that Alibaba’s practices had a negative effect on online retail competition and innovation. Alibaba used data and algorithms to strengthen its own position in the marketplace, resulting in an “improper competitive advantage”.

Business Insider noted that the fine comes several months after Alibaba founder Jack Ma angered government officials, including President Xi Jinping. Speaking at a conference last fall, Jack Ma publicly criticized China’s regulatory system, saying that the country’s financial system was “the legacy of the Industrial Age.”

Xi Jinping then reportedly halted a planned $37 billion initial (R540.6 billion) public offering by Ant Group, another Ma company.

After the clash, Ma disappeared from public view for a few months, fueling speculation over his whereabouts.

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