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Thursday October 17th, 2019 2:24PM

Chinese billionaire Liu of JD.com arrested in Minneapolis

By The Associated Press
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, the founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com, was arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, jail records show.

Liu, 45, was arrested late Friday night and released Saturday afternoon pending possible criminal charges, Hennepin County Jail records show. The jail records don't provide details of the alleged incident.

Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Sunday that he couldn't provide any details because the investigation is considered active. He declined to say where in Minneapolis Liu was arrested or what Liu was accused of doing.

Minnesota law defines five degrees of criminal sexual misconduct, ranging from a gross misdemeanor to felonies, covering a broad array of conduct ranging from nonconsensual touching to violent assaults with injuries. The jail records for Liu don't indicate a degree.

JD.com, the main rival to Alibaba Group, said in a statement posted Sunday on the Chinese social media site Weibo that Liu was falsely accused while in the U.S. on a business trip, but that police investigators found no misconduct and that he would continue his journey as planned.

"We will take the necessary legal action against false reporting or rumors," the company said.

Liu recently tried to distance himself from a sexual assault allegations against a guest at a 2015 party at Liu's penthouse in Australia. Liu was not charged or accused of wrongdoing, but Australian media reported he tried unsuccessfully to get a court to prevent the release of his name in that case. The guest was convicted.

In June, Google said it would invest $550 million in JD.com. The investment reflected an effort by the U.S. tech company to expand its reach into Asian e-commerce.

JD.com is China's second-largest e-commerce company after Alibaba. Among its other investors is Chinese internet gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings, the developer of the WeChat messenger app and a major rival of Alibaba, and U.S. retailer Walmart Inc.

___

Associated Press reporters Gillian Wong in Beijing and Josh Boak in Baltimore contributed to this story.

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