HONG KONG — China’s second largest e-commerce platform JD.com has unveiled a $1 billion share repurchase program, days after Minneapolis police declined to press sexual assault charges against company founder Richard Liu.
JD.com shares have been pummeled since Liu was accused of raping a 21-year-old female student on Aug. 30. According to a statement from the accuser, the assault occurred after a dinner while Liu was attending a program at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Liu maintains that the interactions were consensual. He was detained for a few hours by police before being released and allowed to return to China.
On Tuesday, JD.com’s shares traded at $19.75, compared to a year peak of $50.59 in January. The stock rallied 5.8 percent last Friday after the news that the investigation had been concluded with no charges filed against Liu.
The company has also been caught up in a broader sell-off in Chinese stocks due to concerns over the U.S.-China trade war. Bellwether companies Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have all seen their shares slide this year. Tencent, the majority owner of JD.com and the maker of WeChat, has also been hit by regulatory tightening in its video games business, which comprises a large source of its revenue.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office said last week about Liu’s case that a “thorough investigation” had concluded “there were profound evidentiary problems [that] would have made it highly unlikely that any criminal charge could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“As is the case in many sexual assault incidents, it was a complicated situation,” Freeman said. “It is also similar to other sexual assault cases with the suspect maintaining the sex was consensual. As we reviewed surveillance video, text messages, police body camera video and witness statements, it became clear that we could not meet our burden of proof and, therefore, we could not bring charges. Because we do not want to revictimize the young woman, we will not be going into detail.”