JD.com CEO will not face assault charges

Billionaire Richard Liu was accused of rape by a University of Minnesota student from China during his recent US visit.
Billionaire Richard Liu was accused of rape by a University of Minnesota student from China during his recent US visit.

BEIJING • Minnesota prosecutors will not charge the billionaire chief executive officer of China's JD.com, Mr Richard Liu, after he was accused of rape by a University of Minnesota student during his recent US visit, the United States authorities said.

Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman said last Friday that there were "profound evidentiary problems which would have made it highly unlikely that any criminal charge could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt".

In a statement, Mr Freeman said that after an investigation by Minneapolis police and a review by four senior sexual assault prosecutors, it was clear his office could not meet its burden of proof, and therefore could not bring charges.

Mr Liu, 45, who grew JD.com from a humble electronics stall to an e-commerce giant with 2017 net revenues of US$55.7 billion (S$77 billion), was released without charge about 17 hours after he was arrested on Aug 31.

He quickly returned to China, where he has continued to run the company. His representatives have maintained his innocence after the woman, 22, from China studying at the University of Minnesota accused him of rape.

Mr Liu said in a social media post he felt "utter self-admonishment and regret" for the "enormous pain" his "actions on that day" caused his family, especially his wife, internet celebrity Zhang Zetian.

“I immediately confessed to her the truth, and hope she can accept my most sincere apologies,” he said in a statement on the Weibo platform.

A lawyer for the student criticised the decision, saying it showed why victims of sexual assault feared coming forward.

 
 

Investigators "never met this victim; they never spoke to this victim; they never sought to meet with her lawyers", attorney Wil Florin said, adding that his client will file a civil lawsuit.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 23, 2018, with the headline 'JD.com CEO will not face assault charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe