BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese e-commerce giant says its billionaire founder, Liu Qiangdong, has returned to China after earlier being arrested in the U.S. on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct.
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.”
Also known as Richard Liu, the founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site was arrested in Minneapolis late Friday on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, jail records show.
Liu, 45, was released Saturday afternoon pending possible criminal charges, Hennepin County Jail records show. The jail records don’t provide details of the alleged incident.
Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Sunday that he couldn’t provide any details because the investigation is considered active. He declined to say where in Minneapolis Liu was arrested or what Liu was accused of doing.
Minnesota law defines five degrees of criminal sexual misconduct, ranging from a gross misdemeanor to felonies, covering a broad array of conduct ranging from nonconsensual touching to violent assaults with injuries. The jail records for Liu don’t indicate a degree.
China’s foreign ministry said Monday the Chinese Consulate in Chicago is looking into the circumstances surrounding Liu’s arrest.
Nasdaq-listed JD.com said in a statement Sunday that Liu was falsely accused while in the U.S. on a business trip, and that police investigators found no misconduct and he would continue his journey as planned. The $45 billion company, the main rival to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, said it would take legal action against “false reporting or rumors.”
Liu recently tried to distance himself from sexual assault allegations against a guest at a 2015 party at Liu’s penthouse in Australia. Liu was not charged or accused of wrongdoing, but Australian media reported he tried unsuccessfully to get a court to prevent the release of his name in that case. The guest was convicted.
JD.com is 10 percent owned by Walmart, while Chinese internet firm Tencent owns 18 percent. Liu, who is worth an estimated $7.3 billion, owns 16 percent of the company and has vast control over major business decisions.