U.S. police arrest China shopping giant's CEO over misconduct claims

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Billionaire and JD.com founder Richard Liu returned to China on Monday after a brief arrest in the United States for alleged sexual misconduct.

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.

He was arrested shortly before midnight on Friday and was released just after 4pm on Saturday, according to Hennepin county sheriff's office.

Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said that an investigation was ongoing and declined to provide details of the arrest.

A Minneapolis police department spokesperson said over the weekend the investigation was "active" but Liu hadn't been charged.

The US$45 billion company, the main rival to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, said it would take legal action against "false reporting or rumours".

The firms will marry JD's supply chain and logistics experience with Google technology to create "next generation" personalised retail in regions including Southeast Asia, the United States and Europe, both companies said in a statement. According to the Wall Street Journal, Liu was held on probable cause and released without bail. Liu will continue his business trip as planned, the company said.

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However, officials from JD.com said that Liu was falsely accused and his arrest was based on unsubstantiated accusation. While Liu was not accused of wrongdoing, he asked an Australian court to block release of his name, citing potential harm to his company and marriage.

In June, Google announced a $550 million investment in the company.

The New York Times reported Liu has returned to China where he has become the talk of the nation.

There is also no clear successor to Liu, who is both chairman and chief executive, even as JD.com faces an escalating battle with Alibaba and has seen its shares fall 24 percent this year.

Liu's arrest comes as the billionaire is still trying to distance himself from a sexual assault that occurred at a party he hosted in his luxury Sydney penthouse in 2015. The defendant was found guilty of seven offenses, according to a court document.

Liu previously ran a chain of computer part stores in Beijing.