Richard Liu, the Chinese billionaire founder of JD.com, has been arrested in Minnesota after being implicated in a case of sexual misconduct.
The chief executive of the e-commerce giant was arrested late on Friday and was freed Saturday afternoon, CNBC reports.
The company, in a statement released on Chinese social media Weibo, said the allegations made against the billionaire were false.
The local police found no evidence of the alleged misconduct, the statement read, and Liu’s business trip has continued.
Liu has recently tried to distance himself from a sexual assault which took place after a party he threw in his penthouse in Australia in 2015.
According to The New York Times, Liu had made a request for a suppression order, which the judge refused.
The publication of Mr. Liu’s name in connection with the case came as a guest at the December 2015 party, Longwei Xu, was convicted of sexual assault. Mr. Xu, a property development professional also known as Tommy, was on Monday found guilty of seven charges, including having sex with his accuser without her consent.
The woman, a model, arrived at the party at Mr. Liu’s apartment, which has sweeping views of the Sydney harbor, with Mr. Xu, whom she had met that night, according to news reports.
She reportedly told the court that some men at the party, but not Mr. Liu, had given her so much alcohol that she became drunk and could barely walk.
According to her, Mr. Xu had offered to take her home but instead walked her back to his hotel room.
“When he attempted to rape me, Tommy said that he would buy a boat for me, but I refused,” Fairfax Media reported the woman as saying via audiovisual link through an interpreter. Mr. Xu had denied sexually assaulting the woman.
Mr. Liu, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, has not been charged with any crime or accused of any wrongdoing. A JD.com spokesman said that Mr. Liu had “expressed his deep sympathy for the victim and profound sadness about the incident.”
“As the judge clearly stated, Mr. Liu is not implicated in any way,” the spokesman added. “He was preparing food for the guests throughout the evening and was not present for most of the dinner. Further, the perpetrator was a casual acquaintance, and the crime was committed later that evening at a separate location.”
The original application for a suppression order on Mr. Liu’s name was made to a judge in the New South Wales District Court on the grounds it could damage, among other things, his business. The judge ultimately decided that it was not in the public interest for the order to be issued.
Mr. Liu, 44, founded JD.com in the early days of Chinese e-commerce, and grew it to massive scale, in part by investing heavily in logistics to ensure that packages get delivered quickly and in good condition. The company is now worth about $50 billion and is locked in a fierce competition for customers’ attention with its better-known rival Alibaba.
Mr. Liu is married to the Chinese internet celebrity Zhang Zetian, now 24, who is better known in China as Sister Milk Tea. Ms. Zhang rose to fame when, as a 16-year-old, a photo of her drinking tea in a high school classroom went viral along with a love letter addressed to her on social media.