Chinese billionaire leaves US after arrest on suspicion of sex assault
Beijing - Chinese billionaire and tech mogul Richard Qiangdong Liu returned to China on Monday, three days after Minneapolis police arrested and detained him on suspicion of sexual assault.
Liu, the 45-year-old chief executive and founder of the e-commerce giant JD.com, was released Saturday from the Hennepin County Jail, with booking records showing no posted bail.
"He has been released without any charges, and without a requirement for bail," JD.com spokeswoman Tracy Yang told The Washington Post. "Mr Liu has returned to work in China."
The Minneapolis Police Department had not yet decided Sunday if it would bring charges against Liu, spokesman John Elder told The Washington Post. The alleged assault would be a felony, authorities said, declining to provide further detail.
Liu was in the United States on business when he faced questions about an "unsubstantiated accusation," according to a statement JD.com posted Sunday to the Chinese social network Weibo.
"The local police quickly determined there was no substance to the claim against Mr Liu," the statement read, "and he was subsequently able to resume his business activities as originally planned."
JD.com declined to elaborate on the event.
Liu's lawyers in Minneapolis told The Post he denied any wrongdoing.
"Under these circumstances, based on our substantial experience in the criminal justice system in Minnesota, charges are highly unlikely in the future to be brought against our client," attorneys Earl Gray and Joseph Friedberg said in an email.
China's Foreign Ministry said Monday it had launched an investigation into the circumstances of the chief executive's arrest.
Investors flinched slightly at the news Friday of Liu's arrest, but JD.com stock value had rebounded by the end of the day.
JD.com is among China's biggest online retailers and lauds itself as the first e-commerce company in the country to offer next-day delivery nationwide.
Liu is known for pushing the company toward "100 percent" automation and speaking at global conferences about reducing the need for workers. JD.com is now testing drone deliveries in rural areas and recently unveiled a robot-run warehouse in Shanghai that can package 200,000 orders per day with the help of only four human engineers.
Google announced in June that it had invested $550 million in the firm, which plans to expand in the United States and compete with Amazon. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
The Minneapolis arrest wasn't the only harsh spotlight on Liu this year.
An Australian court revealed in July that the chief executive had sought to conceal information in the wake of a sexual assault that happened after a 2015 party at his Australian residence, according to the New York Times.
Longwei Xu, a property developer, was later convicted of the crime. Liu, who was not accused of wrongdoing, had asked an Australian court to keep his name from public view, arguing association with the incident could hurt his business and marriage to the business executive Zhang Zetian, another celebrity figure.
The judge denied his request.
As JD.com aims to spread beyond Asia, Liu has lately sought to raise his profile among global business leaders.
He attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland for the first time this year and shared parts of his life story at the annual alpine gathering of executives, politicians and Hollywood celebrities.
Liu previously ran a chain of computer part stores. He told the Davos crowd he was inspired to start his online shopping platform in 2004 after an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome hit China and threatened the health of his employees.
"I felt that e-commerce would be the trend for the future," he said at the time.