From BusinessInsider regarding the cover story for Barron's by Jonathan Laing:
... the bulk of Laing's screed raises red flags about corporate governance, conflicts of interest, counterfeit goods, and various other questionable business practices.
Particularly disturbing was the suggestion that Ma and his team might actually be making up some numbers, including its very flashy revenue growth stats, which Laing notes are considerably larger than other large tech growth companies like Google, Amazon.com, and Facebook.
... Anne Stevenson-Yang, founder of Chinese research firm JCapital Research, has closely tracked the mainland e-commerce industry in general and Alibaba specifically. She finds the growth numbers puzzling. She observes that “Alibaba’s financial reports have broken free of verifiable reality and have reached an escape velocity that doesn’t comport with Chinese government figures of overall retail sales, consumer spending, or online commerce.” Consider this: Alibaba claims to have 367 million users — about the same as one government agency’s estimate of China’s entire online-shopping population. Or this: Alibaba claims its average shopper spends 26% more on its sites each year than the average U.S. online shopper spends on all sites. Does that make any sense, given American consumers’ far greater affluence and ability to avail themselves of a vastly more developed e-commerce ecosystem?
... That $1,215 average spend at Alibaba also seems high in view of the total average annual per capita expenditure in China, online and at physical stores; that stands at about $2,260. It strains credulity that the average Alibaba user would spend over half of his consumer outlays on Taobao and Tmall, given that the sites have a negligible presence in categories that account for the bulk of consumer spending, like food and beverages, housing, transportation, home health products, and restaurant dining ...
The above allegations appear to be very serious, the Forbes report (behind paywall) is called "comprehensive and detailed enough".
Alibaba needs to come quickly with a comprehensive answer to all the issues raised.