Founder and CEO of JD.com Arrested in the U.S. on Suspicion of Sexual Assault

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News of Liu Qiangdong’s arrest broke out over the Labor Day weekend in the U.S. city of Minneapolis. Liu, chairman and CEO of the Chinese e-commerce retailer JD.com Inc., was briefly arrested for alleged criminal sexual misconduct and has since been released from custody.

According to records from the Hennepin County Jail, Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, was arrested in the late evening of Aug. 31. He was released in the following afternoon with a $0 bail. The Chinese billionaire executive was under suspicion of “criminal sexual conduct” but the Minneapolis Police Department has not yet decided whether it will bring charges, according to spokesman John Elder.

 records from the Hennepin County Jail
records from the Hennepin County Jail

The official Weibo account of JD.com released a statement on the Chinese social media platform, stating that Liu was in the U.S. on a business trip when he was met with “false accusations” and will continue with his itinerary because “investigations by the local police has not found any wrongdoings”.

The statement of JD.com official Weibo account
The statement of JD.com official Weibo account

According to Elder, however, the decision to release Liu is “not indicative of the strength of the evidence”. The spokesman told Washington Post, “We are confident if we need to have further discussions with him, we will be able to have those discussions.”

No further information has been released by the Minneapolis police and the case remains active.

Liu Qiangdong and Zhang Zetian
Liu Qiangdong and Zhang Zetian

The 45-year-old executive is currently married to his second-wife Zhang Zetian. The 24-year-old Zhang is an Internet celebrity better known as “Lil’ Sister Milk Tea” due to a 2009 photo of her holding a cup of milk tea going viral. The two met in 2013 while they were both in the U.S. and married two years later.

Liu Qiangdong, HENNEPIN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Liu Qiangdong, HENNEPIN COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Liu was linked to a sexual assault case tried in Australia earlier this year. The Chinese billionaire was the host of a party in 2015 where the assault took place but is not implicated in any way.

JD.com is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China. In June, it received a $550 million strategic investment from Google to build retail solutions in the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia. Its stock on the Nasdaq dropped 6% after the release of a quarterly report in August that showed a disappointing second quarter.

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  1. It would be great to see a follow up story that discusses whether Chinese consumers are turned off by this story. I noticed Liu is not attending the AI Forum this week. What is the general feeling about whether this will impact the company long term? Further, is Zhang Zetian still an ambassador for the company or has she left the spot light for a while?

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