United States police arrest China shopping giant's CEO over misconduct claims

Glen Norman
September 3, 2018

Chinese billionaire and tech company executive Liu Qiangdong was arrested Friday night in Minneapolis on suspicion of sexual assault and later released as an investigation continues, authorities said.

Liu, 45, was released Saturday afternoon pending possible criminal charges, Hennepin County Jail records show.

Minneapolis police said they were releasing no further information on the case as it remained active.

JD.com said Liu was on a business trip in the United States when he was questioned about an "unsubstantiated accusation", according to a statement posted Sunday to the Chinese social network Weibo.

JD.com's rules require Liu, who holds almost 80 percent of the company's voting rights, to be present at board meetings for the board to make decisions, although it was not immediately clear if he has to be physically present or could participate by teleconference.

JD said it planned to make a selection of items available for sale in places like Europe and the United States through Google Shopping, which allows shoppers to search for products and compare prices on different e-commerce sites.

There is also no clear successor to Liu, who is both chairman and chief executive, even as JD.com faces an escalating battle with Alibaba and has seen its shares fall 24 percent this year.

JD.com declined to elaborate on the event but sent The Post to Liu's lawyer, who did not respond to requests for comment. Liu was not charged or accused of any misconduct, however, he did end up losing a legal battle earlier this year to keep his name out of the records and the press.

Liu started the company that would become JD.com (JD.O) in 1998, spending 12,000 yuan ($1,760.54) of his savings to lease a 4-square-meter retail space in Beijing's technology hub of Zhongguancun. He is also known for his marriage to Chinese internet celebrity Zhang Zetian. Among its other investors is Chinese internet gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings, the developer of the WeChat messenger app and a major rival of Alibaba, and US retailer Walmart Inc.

Liu recently tried to distance himself from sexual assault allegations against a guest at a 2015 party at Liu's penthouse in Australia. The defendant was found guilty of seven offences.

Liu previously ran a chain of computer part stores in Beijing.

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