Published: Tue, September 04, 2018
Markets | By Jeffery Armstrong

JD CEO's arrest steps on governance landmine

JD CEO's arrest steps on governance landmine

Police said an investigation was ongoing.

"He has been released without any charges, and without a requirement for bail", JD.com spokeswoman Tracy Yang told The Washington Post.

"During a business trip to the United States, Mr. Liu was questioned by police in Minnesota in relation to an unsubstantiated accusation", the company said in a statement to Reuters on September 2. He stressed that the case was still active and that "people can say whatever they like" without affecting the investigation.

Reuters has not been able to reach Liu for comment.

Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Sunday that he couldn't provide any details because the investigation is considered active.

Elder declined to provide details about the allegations but said authorities are not overly concerned about Liu leaving the country.

Liu Qiangdong, one of the richest men in China, was arrested on sexual-misconduct allegations over the weekend during a trip to the US.

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JD.com is the second-largest Chinese e-commerce company after Alibaba. Liu's own net worth is estimated at $7.33 billion by Bloomberg.

"I'm not aware of any other company that has similar rules", said Chris Leahy, co-founder of advisory firm Blackpeak and a corporate governance expert.

JD.com denied the charge against Liu.

Liu is registered as a student of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management's doctor of business administration China programme. According to its website, the program is designed for top-level executives working in China, and the average age of participants is 50.

Liu, founder and CEO of Chinese online retailer JD.com, was arrested late Friday night in the midwestern city of Minneapolis and released Saturday afternoon.

China's foreign ministry said it is looking into the matter. It was "seeking information and verification from the related USA authorities", ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

Also known as Richard Liu, the founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site was arrested in Minneapolis late Friday on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, according to Hennepin County Jail records.

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In June, Google announced a $550 million investment in the company. In addition, JD.com also threatened legal action against those publishing false reports and rumors.

Born into a poor farming family in northern Jiangsu province, Liu is arguably less well-known outside China unlike Jack Ma, Tencent Holdings' Pony Ma Huateng and Baidu's Robin Li Yanhong, who recently made to the cover of the Time magazine. Elder said it is his understanding that Liu is still in the United States.

Police in the United States haven't released the name of the complainant but Chinese social media users circulated photos of a young woman whom they said was the victim.

Earlier this year, Liu attempted to suppress information about a sexual assault that occurred after a 2015 party at his Australian home.

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

JD has ambitious plans to take on Western markets.

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