Chinese billionaire returns to Beijing after USA arrest

Richard Liu attends a Reuters interview in Hong Kong

A Chinese billionaire who founded the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com has returned to China after being arrested in the United States for alleged sexual misconduct.

The Chinese billionaire has denied any wrongdoing.

Police spokespeople said they are continuing to investigate, but Liu is not being held in custody and does not face travel restrictions. It is likely to increase the pressure on Liu and US -listed JD.com, which saw its shares end down 6 percent on its first day of trade since the news of his arrest broke. Gray said he and Friedberg would represent Liu if charges are filed, but called that prospect "a very remote possibility".

Richard Liu, CEO and founder of China's e-commerce company JD.com, attends a France-Chinese forum on the applications of artificial intelligence at SOHO 3Q in Beijing, China January 9, 2018.

A first-degree rape charge is the most severe level, defined by the Minnesota government as involving, among other possible acts, "sexual penetration with another person".

"We 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", John Elder, a police department spokesman, told the South China Morning Post. Elder said the alleged attack reportedly occurred at 1 a.m. local time on Friday, and that Liu was taken into custody later that evening.

JD.com's rules require Liu, who holds almost 80 percent of the company's voting rights, to be present at board meetings for the board to make decisions, although it was not immediately clear if he has to be physically present or could participate by teleconference.

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In a statement released by JD.com over the weekend, the company stated that the authorities have determined that there was "no substance" to the accusations made against Liu.

JD.com said on Wednesday it had no comment to make on the case. Shares in JD.com, China's second largest online retailer after Alibaba, dipped Tuesday to an 18-month low, according to Reuters.

The company counts Walmart Inc, Alphabet Inc's Google and China's Tencent Holdings as investors.

"If this spirals as a media focus, negative attention could offset some of the positives associated with endorsement by Walmart and Google", Sanderson said.

If charged and convicted, Liu could face a prison sentence of up to 30 years. He declined to say where in Minneapolis Liu was arrested or what Liu was accused of doing.

Liu's name was also caught up in a sexual misconduct trial in 2015, though he was not the defendant, according to Reuters.

Liu was not accused of wrongdoing, according to a court document.

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