JD.com’s billionaire CEO released after US arrest

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FILE PHOTO: Richard Liu, founder and chief executive officer of e-commerce company JD.com, leaves the Great Hall of the People after the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING: The billionaire founder and chief executive of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc <JD.O>, Richard Liu, was arrested in the US state of Minnesota on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct and later released after what the company said was a false accusation.

JD.com, backed by Walmart Inc <WMT.N>, Alphabet Inc’s <GOOGL.O> Google, and China’s Tencent Holdings <0700.HK>, said in a statement on Sunday that Liu, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, was falsely accused.

“During a business trip to the United States, Mr. Liu was questioned by police in Minnesota in relation to an unsubstantiated accusation,” the company said.

“The local police quickly determined there was no substance to the claim against Liu, and he was subsequently able to resume his business activities as originally planned,” it said.

The company did not immediately provide further details, and Liu could not immediately be reached by Reuters.

The arrest of Liu, 45, was made just before midnight local time on Friday, and he was released just after 4 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff website. It showed Liu was “released pending complaint”.

Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said that an investigation was ongoing and declined to provide details of the arrest.

“We don’t know if there will be charges or not because we haven’t concluded an investigation,” he told Reuters on Sunday.

JD.com is one of China’s tech heavyweights, competing with larger rival Alibaba Group <BABA.N>. Liu is well known in China, with a net worth of $7.9 billion, according to Forbes.