Richard Liu Qiangdong, CEO of JD.com, raises his arms to celebrate the IPO for his company at the NASDAQ exchange in May, 2014. Photo: VCG
Alleged sexual misconduct against Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com's founder and CEO Richard Liu gripped Chinese social media, with many netizens urging Chinese celebrities to stay clean, even though they believe Liu is innocent.
"We were informed that our CEO Richard Qiangdong Liu was taken into custody by Minneapolis police on August 31, 2018," according to a statement sent to the Global Times by JD.com on Monday.
It said that "Liu has been released without any charges, and without requirement for bail. Mr. Liu has returned to work in China."
Richard Liu was allowed to leave Minnesota and the US, but it does not mean that he is innocent, as the case remains open, and police investigation into the case remains active, John Elder, the state police department's public information officer, told Yicai reporters on Monday.
Citing the Hennepin County Sheriff's office website, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Liu was arrested at 11:32 pm on Friday on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct and released on Saturday at 4:05 pm.
Elder said Liu was held for probable cause before being released, with no bail being set. Investigators in Minnesota can either hold a person for up to 36 hours before charging them, or release them and continue an investigation, the WSJ report said.
Depending on the details of the crime, criminal sexual conduct could either be a misdemeanor or a felony, said Elder.
Liu was "wrongfully" charged with sexual assault during a business trip in the US, JD.com said on Sunday.
Allegations that Liu had sexually assaulted female students are inaccurate, and the CEO will continue his itinerary in the US as planned, the statement said, noting that JD.com will take necessary legal action against false reports and rumors.
The incident has ignited heated discussions among Chinese netizens, with the topic with hashtag "Liu Qiangdong's (Richard Liu) mug shot profile in custody" attracting 300 million views on the Chinese Twitter-like Sina Weibo since Monday afternoon.
Many netizens expressed their support for Liu, believing he is innocent. "How come a man who started such a big company have so little self-control? I think he was set up in the US," Sina Weibo user Zhihongbao said.
Chinese entrepreneurs should keep themselves clean, because their reputation stands not only for themselves, but also for Chinese brands and companies, a Beijing-based expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times.
"The US police handling of Liu's case appears to be uncommon, as Liu was swiftly released without posting bail, and allowed to leave the US," said Mo Shaoping, a law professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics.
However, no conclusion can be drawn based on the seemingly lenient treatment of Liu, Mo noted.Newspaper headline: Liu released, but not cleared