Chinese billionaire arrested in Minneapolis

Hugh Fox
September 3, 2018

Richard Liu, founder and chief executive of JD.com, China's second-largest e-commerce company by market capitalisation, was arrested in the USA state of Minnesota on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct on August 31.

The 45-year-old businessman was released from jail on Saturday afternoon pending possible criminal charges, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Minneapolis police said they were releasing no further information on the case as it remained active.

In a statement posted on Chinese social media network Weibo, JD.com confirmed that Mr Liu had been arrested over what it described as a false allegation during a business trip.

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Liu founded JD.com, one of China's leading e-commerce sites in 2004.

"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".

FILE PHOTO - JD.com founder Richard Liu attends a Reuters interview in Hong Kong, China June 9, 2017. He declined to say where in the city Liu was arrested or what he was accused of doing.

The firm, also known as "Jingdong", got its name from a combination of part of Liu's Chinese first name, Qiangdong, and that of his girlfriend at the time, Xiaojing.

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Investors flinched slightly at the news Friday of Liu's arrest, but JD.com stock value had rebounded by the end of the day. She met Liu while studying in the United States and married him in 2015.

Born into a poor farming family in northern Jiangsu province, Liu is arguably less well-known outside China unlike Jack Ma, Tencent Holdings' Pony Ma Huateng and Baidu's Robin Li Yanhong, who recently made to the cover of the Time magazine. 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.

His wife, Zhang Zetian, some 19 years younger, is a businesswomen and internet celebrity. An Australian court found one of Liu's penthouse guests guilty of rape in an incident from 2015. Among its other investors is Chinese internet gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings, the developer of the WeChat messenger app and a major rival of Alibaba, and US retailer Walmart Inc.

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