JD.com has claimed that the arrest in Minneapolis of its founder Liu Qiangdong on suspicion of sexual assault was an error, while a lawyer for Liu has said that his client denies any wrongdoing.
Liu, JD.com’s chief executive officer, was arrested and briefly held on Friday night on suspicion of sexual assault. Liu was detained at the Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis while on a business trip to the United States. He was released at 4:05 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, according to county records, with no bail being posted. Liu has since returned to China, JD.com said. An investigation into the allegation is under way. No specific details about the accusation against the ceo have been released.
In a statement posted on Sunday to the Chinese social media platform Weibo, JD.com said Liu was questioned about a false accusation. The statement, in Mandarin, said the police determined that the claims were unsubstantiated and that Liu was able to resume his business activities after he had been released. Meanwhile, Earl Gary, a lawyer for Liu, was quoted in press reports on Monday as saying that his client insists he is innocent and that he does not expect any charges to be brought.
Earlier this year, Liu tried to kill a story about a sexual assault that happened at his Australian home after a party in 2015. The perpetrator was property developer Longwei Xu, who was found guilty on seven counts. It has been widely reported that Liu attempted to stop the release of his name due to concerns over potential harm to his business and marriage. This request was denied by an Australian court in July, with local media naming him. Liu was not accused of any offense.
In June, JD.com revealed that Google had invested $550 million into the company, with the two firms saying they would begin working together to explore the “next generation of retail infrastructure solutions” around the world. They also said that products were being made available for sale through Google Shopping in multiple regions, including Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Europe. This partnership could potentially help lay the groundwork for the company grow outside China and eventually compete with Amazon. The announcement coincided with JD.com’s annual 6/18 anniversary sale, where the transaction volume for the first 18 days of the anniversary sale was $24.7 billion. Other stakeholders in JD.com include Tencent and Walmart.
In March, JD.com revealed that it had recorded its first full year of profitability of $18 million for 2017, with a yearly revenue total of $55.7 billion. Last month, JD.com reported its second-quarter 2018 results, with net revenue totalling $18.5 billion, an increase of 31.2 percent from the second quarter of 2017.
It was noted that Liu remained uncharacteristically silent on this earnings call.