Chinese JD.com billionaire Liu Qiangdong arrested in US over sexual misconduct allegation

Head of e-commerce giant released under investigation after Minnesota complaint

Tom Barnes@thomas_barnes
Monday 03 September 2018 09:37
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Liu Qiangdong was arrested in Minnesota following an allegation of sexual misconduct
Liu Qiangdong was arrested in Minnesota following an allegation of sexual misconduct

The billionaire founder of one of China’s biggest e-commerce websites has been arrested in the US following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Liu Qiangdong, chief executive of JD.com, was arrested on Friday night and released Saturday afternoon pending possible criminal charges, according to Minnesota jail records.

Minneapolis police refused to provide details on exactly what the 45-year-old, also known as Richard Liu, had been accused of, saying an investigation into the incident was active.

The term sexual misconduct covers a number of charges of varying severity in Minnesota, ranging from non-consensual touching to violent assaults.

JD.com, the main rival to Chinese online retail giant Alibaba, released a statement on Sunday in response to what it described as “false rumours” about Mr Liu circulating on social network Weibo.

“Mr Liu Qiangdong encountered a false accusation during his business activities in the United States,” a spokesman for the company said.

“After investigation, local police found no misconduct and he will continue his journey as planned. We will take the necessary legal action against false reporting or rumours.”

The businessman, worth around $12.7bn (£9.8bn), recently tried to distance himself from a serious sexual assault committed by a guest at a private dinner party he had hosted in Sydney, Australia.

Mr Liu was not charged or accused of wrongdoing over the 2015 incident, for which the guest was later convicted, but unsuccessfully requested a court order to prevent release of his name in connection with the case.

In June, Google said it would invest $550m (£426m) in JD.com. The investment reflected an effort by the US tech company to expand its reach into Asian e-commerce.

JD.com, China's second-largest e-commerce company, also boasts tech giant Tencent and US retailer Walmart among its major investors.

Additional reporting by AP

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