Date
23 September 2018
A file picture of JD.com founder and CEO Richard Liu. The e-commerce entrepreneur has returned to China following a brief arrest in the US over sexual misconduct claims. Photo: Reuters
A file picture of JD.com founder and CEO Richard Liu. The e-commerce entrepreneur has returned to China following a brief arrest in the US over sexual misconduct claims. Photo: Reuters

JD.com chief returns to China after US arrest

Richard Liu, the founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, has returned to China, days after he was arrested by police in the US city of Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct and later released, Reuters reports.

Police in Minneapolis said an investigation was ongoing.

JD.com has said that the accusation against Liu, 45, was unsubstantiated.

A Minnesota-based lawyer for Liu, Earl Gray, said Liu denies any wrongdoing, and added that he does not expect his client to be charged,

The lawyer pointed out that Liu was released without charges or bail, and was allowed to return to China.

“Under these circumstances based on our substantial experience in the criminal justice system in Minnesota charges are highly unlikely in the future to be brought against our client,” Reuters quoted Gray as saying in an emailed statement.

Minneapolis police said on Sunday that “an active investigation” was under way.

“We don’t know if there will be charges or not because we haven’t concluded an investigation,” John Elder, a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department, told Reuters on Sunday. He declined to provide details of the arrest.

The Financial Times, citing people with knowledge of the matter, reported that the case involved Liu, who is a student in the University of Minnesota’s doctor of business administration program, and a Chinese student at the university.

While the doctoral program primarily takes place in Beijing in partnership with the prestigious Tsinghua University, the students were in the Twin Cities last week as part of their training. 

The complaint against Liu was made just before midnight local time last Friday, and he was released just after 4 pm on Saturday, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff website.

In addition to making Liu the highest-profile Chinese businessperson to be accused publicly of sexual misconduct, the case has raised concerns that Nasdaq-listed JD.com could face difficulties making decisions due to its unusual governance structure, Reuters noted.

JD.com’s rules require Liu, who holds nearly 80 percent of the company’s voting rights, to be present at board meetings for the board to make decisions, according to the report.

However, it was not immediately clear if he has to be physically present or could participate by teleconference, Reuters said.

The news agency said it was unable to reach Liu for comment.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

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