BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top securities regulator vowed on Friday to apprehend law-breaking financial tycoons he called "giant crocodiles", saying they will not be allowed to "suck the blood" of retail investors, financial magazine Caixin reported.

Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), said that a group of such businessmen had circumvented regulations to ultimately control financial institutions and dominate board rooms.

The market won't allow them to "to peel the skin and suck the blood of retail investors, and China should stick to its plan to capture a group f giant crocodiles and bring them back," Liu was quoted as saying.

The comments by Liu, who didn't identify any targets, come as China-born billionaire Xiao Jianhua, who runs Beijing-based financial group Tomorrow Holdings, disappeared in Hong Kong, prompting media speculation that he has been abducted and taken to mainland China. [nL4N1FO0LZ].


Xiao entered mainland China through a border checkpoint on Jan. 27, Hong Kong police said in a statement to Reuters.

Xu Xiang, a Chinese hedge fund manager detained in the wake of the market crash in the summer of 2015, was sentenced in late January to 5-1/2 years' imprisonment for market manipulation. [nL4N1FD1UO]

China has intensified a crackdown on illegal market activities since the mid-2015 crash that wiped out almost $3 trillion of share value.

Liu was appointed chairman of CSRC in early 2016, after his predecessor was widely criticized for the crash.

In December, Liu condemned "barbaric" leveraged company buy-outs by some asset managers using illegal funds. [nL4N1DY053]

(Reporting by Stella Qiu, Samuel Shen and Nicholas Heath; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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