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Chinese Billionaire Arrested In Minnesota Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Liu Qiangdong, who is also known as Richard Liu and is the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, was arrested and then released in Minneapolis pending a criminal complaint, police said.

By Ethan Harfenist

Chinese tech billionaire Liu Qiangdong was arrested in Minneapolis over allegations of criminal sexual assault, jail records show.

Liu, who also goes by the name Richard Liu and is the founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, was taken into custody late Friday and released the following afternoon pending possible criminal complaint, according to Hennepin County Jail records. The county hasn’t released any information or details about the reported incident.

Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder on Sunday said he could not comment on the case since it is considered an active investigation, according to the Associated Press.

JD.com, meanwhile, issued statements about the arrest on social media, as well as to news outlets.

“He has been released without any charges, and without requirement for bail,” JD.com spokeswoman Tracy Yang told The Washington Post. “Mr. Liu has returned to work in China.”

On the Chinese social media site Weibo—essentially the country’s version of Twitter—the company’s tone was a bit more aggressive, airing concern that “some users ... are spreading false rumors” about Liu.

“We will take the necessary legal action against false reporting or rumors,” JD.com wrote on Weibo.

Liu was registered as a student at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management in its doctor of business administration program, according to CNN Money. Those who participated in the program lived in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1; the university did not provide further comment, CNN Money reports.

In the state of Minnesota, “criminal sexual misconduct” falls under five degrees or levels, depending on the sexual activity as well as how old the victim is. These range from misdemeanors to felonies. Police records did not indicate which degree of sexual misconduct Liu was arrested for probable cause over.

This isn’t the tech mogul’s first brush with issues stemming from sexual assault allegations. According to AP, Liu recently attempted to keep his name out of accusations made against a guest at a party thrown in his Australian penthouse in 2015. Even though Liu was not charged or accused of doing anything wrong, he fought vigorously to distance himself from the trial; the guest was convicted in July, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile, despite JD.com’s social media statement, Chinese netizens are reportedly deeply invested in the arrest drama surrounding Liu, the New York Times reports. Many are reportedly taking to Weibo and other apps such as WeChat to discuss the legal proceedings and speculate about the founder of JD.com, China’s second-largest e-commerce site behind Alibaba.

Further, the company’s stocks are reportedly falling due to the news surrounding Liu, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

[Photo Credit: Getty]

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