JD.com founder Liu and wife attend Princess Eugenie’s wedding amid US rape case
JD.com founder Richard Liu Qiangdong, who was arrested and then released in the US last month after being accused of rape, showed up with wife Zhang Zetian in the UK last Friday, as the couple attended the wedding of British royal family member Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.
Liu, 45, donned a black morning suit with bright pink tie and held hands with 24-year-old Zhang, who wore a matching pink dress and hat, as they made their way with other guests to St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
The live-streamed video of the British royal nuptials showed Zhang briefly speaking with Liu before she took out her smartphone to take a panoramic photograph of the castle grounds.
The event marked the first time Liu, who serves as chairman and chief executive of e-commerce giant JD.com, made a public appearance with Zhang, following his arrest on suspicion of rape on August 31 and released the next day by the Minneapolis Police Department.
Beijing-based JD.com said it had no comment about Liu’s visit to the UK.
Liu and Zhang’s public appearance appeared to show that all was well on the domestic front. Zhang, also known on the mainland as “Sister Milk Tea”, had posted a photo on her WeChat Moments page on September 24, showing two adult hands and a hand of a young child holding a mooncake, the traditional treat given out during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.
“As long as the whole family is together, life is complete. Hope that with perseverance the clouds will part to show the moon,” Zhang wrote in the photo caption.
The eight-week long saga, sparked when a 21-year-old female University of Minnesota student filed a complaint to police, has dragged on without resolution, creating a cloud of uncertainly around the Nasdaq-listed JD.com. The company’s shares have plunged 22 per cent since Liu was accused of rape.
Last month, Reuters published an account about the night Liu was accused of rape. His accuser had sent a WeChat message to a friend around 2am on August 31 about being forced her to have sex with the JD.com founder, according to the report.
Liu had denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer, Jill Brisbois. “Richard maintains his innocence and has cooperated fully with the investigation,” Brisbois said in a statement to Reuters.
Minneapolis police said on September 20 that an initial investigation into the rape allegation against Liu had been completed. The matter has been handed to local prosecutors for possible charges.
There is no deadline for the decision. Liu could face a prison sentence of up to 30 years if he is charged and convicted.
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.