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The billionaire CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com was arrested in Minnesota on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct and later released, police said.
Liu Qiangdong is also known as Richard Liu.Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office / via AP
John Elder, a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department, said that “an active investigation” was underway but it was possible for Liu to leave the United States. He 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,” Elder told Reuters.
JD.com said in a statement that the accusation against Richard Liu, 45, was unsubstantiated and “local police quickly determined there was no substance to the claim.”
Liu is the highest-profile Chinese businessperson to be accused of sexual misconduct.
The complaint against Liu was made just before midnight local time on Friday on suspicion of sexual misconduct and was released just after 4 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff website.
JD.com, which is backed by Walmart Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google, and China’s Tencent Holdings, did not provide further details, and Liu could not immediately be reached by Reuters.
Elder said he did not know if Liu was being represented in the case by a lawyer.
The University of Minnesota said Liu, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, was a student in its doctor of business administration program, which primarily takes place in Beijing in partnership with the prestigious Tsinghua University and is aimed at full-time executives.
The students were in the Twin Cities last week as part of their training. According to its website, the program is designed for top-level executives working in China and the region, and the average age of participants is 50.
University spokeswoman Emma Bauer in a statement declined to comment further and referred questions to the Minneapolis Police Department.
Chinese social media was abuzz over the arrest, with a thread on Liu’s police booking photo ranking as the most discussed topic on China’s Weibo platform on Monday morning, read more than 250 million times.
JD.com, one of China’s tech heavyweights, competes with larger rival Alibaba Group. The company is worth some $45 billion.
Liu has a net worth of $7.9 billion, according to Forbes.
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