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Sexual harassment and assault

Rape claims against Chinese billionaire Richard Liu under review by prosecutors in Minnesota for possible charges

The founder of the e-commerce site JD.com was arrested August 31 in Minneapolis on suspicion of rape; Liu was released the next day and he returned to China

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2018, 11:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2018, 11:31am

US authorities have completed an investigation into a rape allegation involving Chinese billionaire Richard Liu Qiangdong, founder of e-commerce giant JD.com, and have handed the matter to local prosecutors for possible charges.

Liu, 45, was arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 31 after being accused of rape. He was released the next day and returned to China.

The Minneapolis Police Department completed its initial investigation, and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman “will review all of the evidence and make a decision on whether to bring charges”, Freeman’s department announced on Thursday.

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There is no deadline for the decision. Liu could face a prison sentence of up to 30 years if he is charged and convicted. JD.com has said Liu was falsely accused. His defence lawyers in Minneapolis have said he is innocent.

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Liu was in Minneapolis to take classes at the University of Minnesota, where he was enrolled at the school’s Carlson School of Management to complete the American residency of a US-China business administration doctorate programme.

Liu is a prominent member of the Chinese technology elite, with a fortune of US$7.5 billion.

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JD.com, a major online shopping platform, posted a net loss in the quarter ended June that was about eight times larger than analysts expected, because of increased spending.

The company faces increased competition not just from established rivals like market leader Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the South China Morning Post, but also from relative newcomers like Pinduoduo, which has gained market share by selling low-priced items through a combination of group buying and social media.

Liu has led the US$45 billion business since its founding and controls the business through special voting rights.

Additional reporting by Associated Press and Bloomberg.