Details are still emerging, but it is understood that his detention relates to corruption investigations.
The matter became public on Monday when an internal email from Youku Tudou’s film production subsidiary Heyi Film emerged in the Chinese press. The letter suggested that an internal audit had exposed “serious suspicion in certain production projects.”
Sources within Youku Tudou confirmed to Variety that the company had alerted the authorities about Lu, and that he had left the company in July last year. It is not clear when Youku Tudou reported Lu, nor when Lu was detained.
Lu was one one of the most prominent figures in China’s fast-growing streaming video business and was previously head of the user-generated content operations at the company. He is credited with overseeing the rise of the Chopstick Brothers and creating the “Little Apple” hit song. The song was used as part of “Old Boys: The Way of the Dragon,” a movie that was backed by Youku Tudou and grew from user-generated-content.
Youku Tudou was formed from the merger of rival streaming firms Youku and Tudou. It is currently listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but is soon to be taken private by e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Alibaba itself saw one of its senior executives Liu Chunning arrested last year on suspicion of corruption matters that may have arisen when he was an employee of Tencent. Liu was dismissed from Alibaba Pictures Group last month after failing to attend board meetings and respond to communications from the company.
An anti-corruption drive has been a major hallmark of the Chinese regime since Xi Jinping became president in 2012. While it initially concentrated on the inner echelons of the Communist Party, it has since been extended to the military and state-owned enterprises. As SOEs remain a very significant feature of the Chinese economy, it is logical that alleged wrong-doers were uncovered at operations, such as China Central Television, and at the companies that had business dealings with them.
The judicial process in China can be abrupt and harsh. It is frequently unclear to outsiders when and where people are being held, or why they are being held. Charges are sometime not pressed for many months.
Guo Guangcheng, the chairman and CEO of the Fosun International group which its a major shareholder in Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8, was detained in December, apparently after being arrested at the airport in Shanghai. While he was released only five days later, it still remains unclear whether he was hauled in as a witness or as a suspect.