Tech billionaire returns to China after USA arrest

03 September, 2018, 19:11 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Chinese billionaire arrested in Minneapolis

The billionaire founder and chief executive of Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com, Richard Liu, has been arrested in Minnesota on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct.

Richard Liu, CEO and founder of China's e-commerce company JD.com, attends a France-Chinese forum on the applications of artificial intelligence at SOHO 3Q in Beijing, China January 9, 2018. The alleged assault would be a felony, authorities said, declining to provide further detail.

"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.

Earlier in a statement posted to Chinese social media network Weibo, JD.com described the allegations on its founder as false.

JD.com is now China's second-largest e-commerce player behind Alibaba, and Liu's net worth is $7.9 billion, according to Forbes.

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

JD.com denied the charge against Liu. While Liu was not accused of wrongdoing, he asked an Australian court to block release of his name, citing potential harm to his company and marriage, the Times reported.

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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.

Liu is married to 24-year-old Zhang Zetian, an internet icon who rose to nationwide fame when a photo of her holding a cup of milk tea went viral.

"Mr. Liu has returned to work in China", a JD.com spokesperson said Monday.

This is not the first time Liu has been embroiled in a sexual misconduct incident.

Major investors include Walmart, which owns a 10% stake, and Chinese tech giant Tencent, which holds 18%, according JD's latest annual report.

Liu's arrest comes as the billionaire is still trying to distance himself from a sexual assault that occurred at a party he hosted in his luxury Sydney penthouse in 2015.

Longwei Xu, a property developer, was later convicted of the crime.

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