The billionaire founder and chief executive of Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com, Richard Liu, has been arrested in the US state of Minnesota on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct and later released after what the company says is a false accusation.
JD.com, backed by Walmart, Alphabet’s Google, and China’s Tencent Holdings, said in a statement on Sunday that Liu, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, was falsely accused.
“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.
“The local police quickly determined there was no substance to the claim against Mr Liu, and he was subsequently able to resume his business activities as originally planned,” it said.
The company did not immediately provide further details, and Liu could not immediately be reached by Reuters.
JD.com is one of China’s tech heavyweights, competing with larger rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Liu, 45, is well known in China and has a net worth of $US7.9 billion ($A11.0 billion), according to Forbes.
He was arrested shortly before midnight local time on Friday and was released just after 4pm on Saturday, according to the website of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. It showed Liu was “released pending complaint”.
Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said that an investigation was ongoing and 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,” he told Reuters on Sunday.
The University of Minnesota said Liu was a student in its doctor of business administration program, which primarily takes place in Beijing in partnership with Tsinghua University aimed at full-time executives. The students were in the Twin Cities last week as part of their training.
University spokeswoman Emma Bauer in a statement declined to comment further and referred questions to the Minneapolis Police Department.
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