Billionaire Head of China’s JD.Com Arrested in Minnesota

By Anonymous

BEIJING—Liu Qiangdong, the billionaire chief executive of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc., JD 0.97% was arrested Friday in Minnesota on suspicion of sexual misconduct but released, after what the company said was a false accusation.

“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 Sunday. “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.”

The company said it released the statement in response to “rumors” on Weibo without elaborating.

A person named Qiang Dong Liu, with a date of birth of March 10, 1973, was arrested at 11:32 p.m. Friday on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct and released the next day without having to post bail, according to the official website of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

The JD.com chief executive, who is also known as Richard Liu, was born March 10, 1973, records show.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office said no one was available to comment early Sunday. Minneapolis is the county seat.

Earlier this year, Mr. Liu tried to keep his name out of a criminal case in Australia where a man was accused of sexually assaulting a woman he had met at a party at Mr. Liu’s Sydney home in 2015.

Mr. Liu wasn’t accused of wrongdoing. He had sought a suppression order in the case, citing damage to his business and marriage. Mr. Liu is married Zhang Zetian, who had gained fame as “Sister Milk Tea” when a photo of her holding the beverage went viral on the internet.

Beijing-based JD.com provides online delivery of food and merchandise. Its investors include Tencent Holdings Ltd. , a key rival of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Shares of Nasdaq-listed JD have fallen 28% this year. Tencent held a 18% stake in the company as of February 2018, with Mr. Liu and Walmart Inc. the next biggest stockholders, with 17% and 10% respectively.

In June, JD took on another prominent U.S. company as an investor, with Alphabet Inc.’s Google announcing a $550 million investment into the firm, which gave it about a 1% stake..

Mr. Liu founded the company in 1998 hub with 12,000 yuan of his savings. Initially founded as a physical store selling products such as compact discs, he started online sales website JD.com in 2004 after a SARS outbreak forced him to rethink his business model.

From a website offering consumer electronics, JD has grown to now offer items from groceries to apparel and has sought to differentiate itself from other Chinese e-commerce players by building up a strong logistics network of its own. JD, whose online shopping platform operates in a similar fashion to Amazon.com Inc., also runs its own consumer finance unit.

In its early days, the company attracted initial investment from investors such as Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital China. Still, JD.com received its strongest boost in 2013 when Saudi Arabian investment company Kingdom Holding Company and its chairman Prince al-Waleed bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud put in $250 million into the company. That stake rose 130% about a year later, on JD.com’s first trading day on the Nasdaq.

Mr. Liu is one of China’s richest men, with a net worth of about $7.9 billion, according to Forbes.

—Chunying Zhang contributed to this article

Write to Shan Li at [email protected]