This 2018 photo provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office shows Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, the founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com, who was arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, jail records show. (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
Richard Liu, founder of the e-commerce site JD.com, was arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct © AP

Liu Qiangdong, the billionaire founder and chief executive of Chinese online retailer JD.com, will not be charged over an alleged sexual assault, Minneapolis authorities said on Friday.

“After a thorough investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department sex crimes unit and a meticulous review by four senior, sexual assault prosecutors, it was determined there were profound evidentiary problems which would have made it highly unlikely that any criminal charge could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to a statement issued by the Hennepin County Attorney. 

The tech entrepreneur, also known by the English name Richard, was arrested in Minnesota in early September. He was taken into custody and released without charge in what was initially described as a suspected case of “criminal sexual misconduct” involving a Chinese student at the University of Minnesota. 

The 45-year old returned to China three days after his arrest and has consistently denied all the allegations of wrongdoing. 

One of China’s richest businessmen, Mr Liu has built JD.com into the second-largest ecommerce platform in China. The company raised $1.8bn in its Nasdaq initial public offering in 2014, making it the biggest Chinese company listed overseas at the time. 

Uncertainty surrounding the case and how that could potentially impact the management of JD.com contributed to a one-third slide in the company’s shares since Mr Liu’s arrest. The stock’s woes have been compounded by Beijing’s moves to tighten its regulation of tech companies as well as signs of slowing growth in the Chinese economy.

JD.com said in a statement on Friday that it was “pleased to see this decision.” 

The shares jumped as much as 10 per cent before paring that gain to just under 3 per cent.

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