Tech heavyweight Richard Liu – the billionaire founder of JD.com – was arrested over a rape accusation, the Minneapolis Police Department has revealed.
Rape is a first-degree felony in Minnesota, and if charged, Liu could face up to 30 years behind bars and a fine of USD40,000. The mandatory minimum sentence for first-degree rape in the US state of Minnesota is 12 years, according to Find Law.
First-degree rape is defined as “sexual penetration (vaginal, oral, or anal sex or any intrusion of the victim’s genital or anal openings by any part of the defendant or an object) of anyone or sexual contact with a person under 13.”
Initial statements from the Minneapolis Police were sparse for detail, citing ‘criminal sexual misconduct’ for the arrest – a term that covers a range of nonconsensual sexual interactions, according to the New York Times.
No charges have been filed against Liu, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, and he was released after spending 16 hours in a holding cell. After his release, the billionaire returned to Beijing, JD.com’s headquarters, according to South China Morning Post.
Sixth Tone reports that Liu was seen yesterday at a business event in the Chinese capital.
There is no response yet from JD.com on the latest developments in the case. In the immediate aftermath of Liu’s arrest, the company posted an official statement on Sina Weibo, saying that Liu was subject to “a false accusation during his business activities in the United States,” and that police found no evidence of sexual misconduct following an investigation.
The company further added that it will “take the necessary legal action against false reporting or rumors.”
Unfortunately for Liu and JD.com, the incident is reportedly still being investigated by the Minneapolis Police Department’s sex crimes unit.
Speaking to South China Morning Post, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said that authorities "are putting resources to the investigation and our concern is to provide services to the complainant and to ensure that we’re protecting the rights of Mr. Liu."
Elder also added that the investigation is “progressing nicely” and that “there’s a lot that’s been done, and there’s a lot to go.”
The scandal has savaged JD.com’s shares, which dropped 11 percent Wednesday, according to CNBC. This is the second day running that the company’s stock has plunged: between Tuesday and Wednesday, JD.com shares fell a whopping 16 percent. US shares in the company closed Wednesday at USD26.30.
Additional research by Matthew Bossons.
[Cover image: screengrab via JD Corporate/Instagram]