The Twin Cities-based attorneys for the Chinese billionaire arrested in Minneapolis over the weekend say they are confident their client will not face charges over allegations of criminal sexual misconduct.
Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, was back in China on Monday, two days after he was released from the Hennepin County jail. The founder of the e-commerce site JD.com was arrested Friday evening and released from jail around 4 p.m. Saturday without posting bail.
Attorney Joseph Friedberg said Liu was not charged with a crime but was briefly held by police on suspicion of sexual misconduct before his release. Friedberg said he does not expect further developments in the case and noted that police did not seize Liu’s passport.
“Mr. Liu didn’t do anything wrong, and the police have released him without any restrictions,” Friedberg said, adding “I would bet my [law] license that he’s not going to be charged.”
Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Monday that his department continues to look into the allegations that landed Liu in jail, but he said he couldn’t share any new details about the case. He confirmed Liu had been released from police custody.
“We released him with the understanding that we were very confident we’d be able to reconnect with him as necessary in the investigation,” he said.
Liu’s arrest and return to China has prompted a flurry of interest in his home country, where both he and his wife are celebrities.
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a news conference that the Chinese consulate general in Chicago “is closely following the relevant news, finding out more about the case and verifying the relevant information with the competent authorities in the United States.”
In Minnesota, authorities have released few details about Liu’s arrest, which came as he neared the end of a visit to the Twin Cities for a University of Minnesota program in which he is an enrolled student.
A spokeswoman for the university, Lacey Nygard, said Monday that she could not share any details about Liu’s arrest but confirmed he is a registered student in the Carlson School of Management China Doctor of Business Administration program. Participants, including Liu, visited the Twin Cities between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1.
Friedberg said he was not familiar with Liu before he became involved in his case. He and another local attorney, Earl Gray, spent about 30 minutes talking with Liu at the jail before Liu was called away by a deputy, Friedberg said.
Since then, Friedberg said he’s been inundated with calls from reporters from around the world seeking to know more about the high-profile arrest.
“The whole thing is a bit confusing, to say the least,” he said.
Gray said that he’s also convinced of Liu’s innocence.
“I do not believe he will ever be charged with any crime, and also he’s clearly innocent of any wrongdoing that evening,” he said.
Friedberg said he had nothing to do with Liu’s release from jail.
Beijing-based JD.com, the leading rival to Alibaba Group with more than 300 million customers, said in a statement on the Chinese social media site Weibo that Liu was falsely accused while on an international business trip but that police found no misconduct and that he would continue his travels as planned.
“We will take the necessary legal action against false reporting or rumors,” the company statement read.