A Chinese billionaire who founded the e-commerce site JD.com and is studying at the University of Minnesota was arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, police said Sunday.
Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, was booked into jail about 11:30 p.m. Friday and released about 4 p.m. Saturday pending possible prosecution, said police spokesman John Elder.
Elder declined to reveal anything further about the arrest, including any specifics about the alleged offense or when and where it may have occurred.
The lack of information, Elder explained, is because his department is “actively investigating this case,” and further details should be released later this week.
Citing two people with direct knowledge of the matter, the Financial Times reported that the case involves Liu and a Chinese student at the U.
A Star Tribune source Sunday afternoon confirmed the accuracy of that report.
Liu is registered as a student in the U’s Carlson School of Management doctor of business administration China program, a university spokeswoman said Sunday. Program participants were in the Twin Cities from Aug. 26 through Saturday as part of their residency, the spokeswoman said.
Beijing-based JD.com, the main 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 a 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.
Liu recently tried to distance himself from a sexual assault allegation leveled against a guest at a 2015 party at his penthouse in Australia. Liu was not charged or accused of wrongdoing, but Australian media reported he failed in court to keep his name under wraps in that case. The guest, Longwei Xu, was convicted of sexual assault.
Google announced in June that it was investing $550 million in JD.com. In return, JD.com will join the Google Shopping advertising platform and work with the Silicon Valley company on other e-commerce projects in Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States. The deal will give Google less than 1 percent of the Chinese retailer’s Nasdaq shares.