JD.com chief executive Richard Liu arrested in Minnesota in sexual misconduct case

JD.com founder Richard Liu attends a business forum in Hong Kong, China, on June 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (NYTIMES) - The billionaire chief executive of one of China's largest online retailers was arrested on Friday in Minnesota on a charge of criminal sexual conduct before being released a day later, according to police records.

According to the jail roster for the Hennepin County Sheriff's office, Richard Liu, the founder of JD.com, was taken into custody by Minneapolis police late Friday and freed Saturday afternoon.

In a statement posted on Sunday (Sept 2) on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, JD.com said that a false accusation had been made against Liu while he was in the United States on business, and that local police had found no evidence of misconduct. The company said that Liu's trip would continue as planned.

A company spokeswoman declined to comment further. When asked when Liu, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, would return to China, the spokeswoman said she did not have that information.

JD.com is a heavyweight in China's technology scene, and Liu is one of its most revered leading lights. The company competes with Alibaba for the attention of China's increasingly affluent middle class, and says it has more than 300 million customers. It reported disappointing earnings for its most recent quarter.

Recently, Liu tried to distance himself from a sexual assault that was alleged to have taken place after a 2015 party at his penthouse in Australia. A guest at the party, Longwei Xu, was convicted of sexual assault. Xu, a property development professional also known as Tommy, was found guilty of seven charges, including having sex with his accuser without her consent.

Liu has not been charged with a crime or accused of any wrongdoing in that case. But he tried to get an Australian court to prevent the release of his name by citing damage to his marriage and business, court documents show. In July, a judge rejected his request for a suppression order.

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