Chinese billionaire CEO Richard Liu arrested in U.S., accused of sexual offence

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

The billionaire founder and chief executive of Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com Inc JD.O , Richard Liu, was arrested in the us state of Minnesota on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct and later released after what the company said was a false accusation.

Founded in 1998, JD.com is an e-commerce juggernaut in China and the main competitor to industry leader Alibaba.

He was arrested shortly before midnight on Friday and was released just after 4pm on Saturday, according to Hennepin county sheriff's office. He declined to provide details of the arrest.

However, the case is still active-and Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder told the Journal that Liu was "released pending formal complaint".

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JD.com said in a statement on Sunday that Liu was falsely accused while in the USA for a business trip and police found no evidence of misconduct.

Liu began his e-commerce business after he was forced to shut down a computer shop in Beijing when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) struck China, forcing people to stay indoors for weeks.

"We will take the necessary legal action against false reporting or rumors", the company said. He was released after 4 p.m. Saturday, with records showing no posted bail.

However, officials from JD.com said that Liu was falsely accused and his arrest was based on unsubstantiated accusation.

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The arrest comes after Liu recently tried to distance himself from a sexual assault allegations against a guest at a 2015 party at Liu's penthouse in Australia.

Both the name and birthdate of the person in the detention record matched that of Richard Liu.

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.

JD.com denied the charge against Liu. The #MeToo movement that has highlighted sexual misconduct has derailed the careers of well known entertainers, corporate executives and politicians in the United States and other countries, and has begun to find traction in China too.

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Major investors include Walmart, which owns a 10% stake, and Chinese tech giant Tencent, which holds 18%, according JD's latest annual report. Liu started his business by opening a counter store in Beijing selling computer parts.

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