Chinese billionaire back at work amid US sexual conduct probe

03 September, 2018, 19:14 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Chinese Billionaire Liu

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

Richard Liu, CEO and founder of China's e-commerce company JD.com, speaks before ringing the opening bell at the NASDAQ Market Site building at Times Square in NY, U.S. May 22, 2014.

Records from Hennepin county jail showed Liu, founder and CEO of Chinese online retail giant JD.com, was arrested over the misconduct allegations on Friday night and released Saturday afternoon.

The Minneapolis Police Department over the weekend said the investigation remained active but would not confirm details of the arrest or the allegations against 45-year-old Liu.

"Such allegations about Liu Qiangdong sexually assaulting female students are inaccurate, and the CEO will continue his trip in the USA as planned", said the statement, adding JD.com will take legal action against "false reports and rumor mongering".

Founded in 1998, the Fortune Global 500 company is China's second-largest e-commerce firm and an aggressive competitor of Alibaba.

"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".

Investors flinched slightly at the news Friday of Liu's arrest, but JD.com stock value had rebounded by the end of the day. Liu will continue his business trip as planned, the company said.

Legal troubles for Liu could darken perceptions overall of JD.com, whose shares trade on the Nasdaq stock market in NY and have a market value of around US$50 billion. JD.com was quick to defend its leader, saying that law enforcement had grilled him over an "unsubstantiated accusation" and let him go when it determined there was "no substance".

This is not the first time Liu has been embroiled in a sexual misconduct incident.

JD.com, backed by Walmart Inc (WMT.N), Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google, and China's Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), did not respond to requests for comment on Liu. The defendant was found guilty of seven offenses, according to a court document.

JD.com denied the charge against Liu. Liu started his business by opening a counter store in Beijing selling computer parts.

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