China's JD.com: Founder Returns to Beijing After US Arrest

03 September, 2018, 19:16 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Tech billionaire and JD.com founder Richard Liu has returned to China, the company said Monday, following a brief arrest in the United States over allegations of criminal sexual conduct.

Liu, 45, was arrested on August 31, 2018 by the Minneapolis police for alleged sexual misconduct and released the following afternoon. He declined to provide further details.

The Minneapolis Police Department had not yet decided Sunday if it will bring charges against Liu, spokesman John Elder told The Washington Post.

Nasdaq-listed JD.com said in a statement Sunday that Liu was falsely accused while in the US on a business trip, and that police investigators found no misconduct and he would continue his journey as planned.

JD.com is one of China's tech heavyweights, competing with larger rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd BABA.N .

"I think there is a feeling in the company that we are morally superior to Alibaba", a company insider said, adding that Liu was "aggressive" but "generally very well liked".

Zhang Shuhan, a JD.com official, said Monday by phone that "Liu Qiangdong has been released without charges and he is now back in China". Liu will continue his business trip as planned, the company said.

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The New York Times reported Liu has returned to China where he has become the talk of the nation.

In that case, Liu had hosted a party in late 2015 at his luxury home in Sydney, after which one of his guests accused another guest of sexually assaulting her at a hotel.

Longwei Xu, a property developer, was later convicted of the crime.

Google recently made a $550 million investment in the Beijing-based company. Liu, who was not accused of wrongdoing, had asked an Australian court to keep his name from public view, arguing association with the incident could hurt his business and marriage to the business executive Zhang Zetian, another celebrity figure.

Liu built JD.com from scratch. The #MeToo movement that has highlighted sexual misconduct has derailed the careers of well known entertainers, corporate executives and politicians in the United States and other countries, and has begun to find traction in China too.

JD.com is 10 percent owned by Walmart, while Chinese internet firm Tencent owns 18 percent.

He has a sociology degree from Beijing's prestigious Renmin University and is a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an important advisory body to the government.

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