JD CEO's arrest steps on governance landmine

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Tech billionaire and JD.com founder Richard Liu has returned to China, the company said Monday, following a brief arrest in the United States over allegations of criminal sexual conduct.

He was arrested shortly before midnight on Friday and was released just after 4pm on Saturday, according to Hennepin county sheriff's office. However, the case is still active-and Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder told the Journal that Liu was "released pending formal complaint".

JD.com said in a statement on the Chinese social media platform Weibo that Mr Liu arrest in Minnesota was based on an "unsubstantiated accusation".

Legal troubles for Liu could darken perceptions overall of JD.com, whose shares trade on the Nasdaq stock market in NY and have a market value of around US$50 billion.

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"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". He was briefly arrested and held in Minneapolis Friday and released Saturday afternoon.

China's foreign ministry said Monday the Chinese Consulate in Chicago is looking into the circumstances surrounding Liu's arrest. He tried to distance himself from a sexual assault that was said to have taken place after a 2015 party at his penthouse in Australia.

Longwei Xu, a property developer, was later found guilty of seven counts. Liu wasn't involved, but he unsuccessfully asked the court to hide his name out of concerns for his business and marriage.

The two tech firms plan to join forces to sell goods online across Southeast Asia, the United States and Europe in order to better compete with rivals like Amazon and Alibaba. A judge denied his request in July. In June, Google announced it was investing $550million in the company as part of a strategic partnership to jointly develop markets outside the country.

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