Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong who was arrested and placed in the custody of a police station in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Friday night on suspicion of sexual misconduct, has since returned to China.
Liu is the founder of JD.com, an e-commerce company. JD.com is China’s biggest online direct retailer and sells everything from clothes to toys to fresh vegetables. Liu Qiandong, who is also known as Richard Liu, is only 44 and has a net worth estimated at $7.33 billion according to Forbes and Bloomberg.
Liu had been in Minnesota to attend a residency for a Ph.D. program in business administration offered by the University of Minnesota. While jail records have not yet provided details of the alleged incident, rumors circulating online suggest that the sexual misconduct allegations against the e-commerce mogul were made by a female Chinese student at the university.
Mr. Liu was freed on Saturday without bail and has since returned to China.
The accusation has put JD.com under pressure. The company’s shares fell 6 percent on Tuesday – the first day of trading since news of Mr. Liu’s arrest first surfaced online. JD.com has been under the weather for quite some time now. The company’s share price was already at its lowest levels since early last year over concerns of increased competition in the China’s general e-commerce space and weakening consumer sentiment. Liu is regarded as Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s biggest business rival, and myths about their rivalry feature prominently in Chinese social media.
JD.com has since issued a statement saying that Liu 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 wrote in a weekend post on Weibo, a popular social media platform in China.
The Minneapolis Police Department said Mr. Liu had been released pending a formal complaint, noting that the investigation was “really in its infancy.”