Richard Liu, founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, was arrested in Minneapolis on Friday on suspicion of criminal sexual misconduct. He was released from Hennepin County jail the following day on $0 bail and has since returned to Beijing while an “active investigation” continues.
The billionaire’s lawyers deny any wrongdoing and have told the press that they are confident their client will not face charges, pointing out that police did not seize his passport.
Liu, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, was in the Midwest city completing the American summer residency of a U.S.-China business administration doctorate program offered by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management in partnership with China’s Tsinghua University. The program is tailored to seasoned Chinese business leaders, and the average age of participants is 50 (Liu is 45).
JD.com is the country’s second-largest e-commerce conglomerate and saw $55.7 billion in revenues in 2017 on sales of brands like Nike, Christian Louboutin and Vans. The company posted a statement on the social media platform Weibo on Sunday coming to its founder’s defense:
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“During a business trip to the United States, Mr. Liu was questioned by police in Minnesota in relation to an unsubstantiated accusation. The local police quickly determined there was no substance to the claim against Mr. Liu, and he was subsequently able to resume his business activities as originally planned.”
Shares of the company fell around 6 percent Tuesday morning when the markets opened after Labor Day, as Liu’s mug shot circulated widely on Chinese social media. Its major investors include Google, Walmart and gaming powerhouse Tencent Holdings Ltd.