But the debt the company took on to make those purchases grew so large that it drew the attention of the Chinese authorities. In recent years, HNA has unloaded billions of dollars of holdings. Investors dumped its bonds. It even asked its own employees to lend it money, though company representatives have said that only small amounts were raised this way.
The two lawsuits that led to the restrictions on Mr. Chen’s expenditure were brought against HNA by Chai Jing, 50, a resident of the Chinese city of Xi’an.
In 2018, Ms. Chai had purchased two investment products from Jubaohui, an online financial platform owned by HNA. When she did not receive what she was owed under the terms of the investment agreement, she sued. In March, a district court in Xi’an ordered HNA to pay her roughly $50,000 in principal, plus interest. The court said this week that the company had failed to do so.
Not long ago, HNA had $145 billion in assets and $90 billion in annual revenue, most of it from companies acquired outside China. Even after the struggles of recent years, the Hurun Report, a research organization in Shanghai that tracks the wealthy in China, estimated Mr. Chen’s wealth in 2019 to be $1.9 billion.