Everything you might want to know about billionaire founder Richard Liu’s arrest in the U.S. (updated)

Inside the arrest of Chinese billionaire founder Richard Liu.

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Everything you might want to know about billionaire founder Richard Liu’s arrest in the U.S. (updated)

Over last weekend, words have been swirling on Chinese social media that, Liu Qiangdong, Chinese billionaire founder and chief executive of JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce company, was arrested Friday in Minnesota on alleged “criminal sexual conduct.

The company made a quick attempt to put the fire out, releasing a statement Sunday afternoon on China’s Twitter, Weibo:

During a business trip to the United States, Mr Liu was questioned by police in Minnesota in relation to an unsubstantiated accusation. The local police quickly determined there was no substance to the claim against Mr Liu, and he was subsequently able to resume his business activities as originally planned.

The well-articulated statement tried its best to communicate the idea that the accusation is fallacious and unfounded – noting Mr Liu had been released with no charges and no bail – in vain, after police officials in Minneapolis said they were treating the case as an active investigation.

Minneapolis Police Department public information officer John Elder said that:

This is an active investigation. That individual was released pending formal complaint.

Richard Liu mug shot.

What JD conveyed the case is “a false accusation”, the police said it’d keep investigating and Mr Liu might be pending a formal accusation.

According to the jail roaster for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office, Mr Liu was taken into custody at 11:32 p.m. Friday on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, and then released Saturday afternoon at 4:05 p.m.

Who is Liu Qiangdong anyway?

Speaking of China’s e-commerce, the first name pops off of the head of someone from the non-Chinese speaking world, should be Alibaba’s high-profile Jack Ma, who flies around the world and befriends world leaders, giving speeches at prominent international conferences.

As to Liu Qiangdong – goes by the English name Richard Liu – and his e-commerce empire JD.com, are relatively lesser-known and less covered in the English-speaking world, as compared to his Hangzhou-based counterpart.

Richard Liu, born in the Suqian city of China’s eastern Jiangsu province, was raised in a poor peasant family – one of the reasons he has always been perceived as down-to-earth on media.

At one year-end company gathering, Liu once recounted his enterprise inspiration to his employees. According to Liu, he came from a poor family. His parents who also wanted to start a new business, had to sell whatever they have and borrow from whoever they know. His parents would borrow as little as RMB ten yuan, or US$ 1.4. And after half a year of selling and borrowing, they managed to come by RMB 2000 yuan, or US$ 292.

Then after another year, his family’s startup business started to earn a minor profit. Subsequently, for every Mid-autumn’s day festival, a Chinese holiday that highlights family reunion, the family could afford to eat pork.

For those who do not know much of China’s destitute past, being able to afford pork or any other kind of meat at that time is equivalent to make it to the middle-class echelon today, especially that Liu was born in 1974 and China didn’t open up its gate to the world until 1978.

Raised in a peasant’s family and tasted what his parents’ small business could do to change the family’s life, entrepreneurship was imparted to him early on.

Liu started his own startup journey when he’s studying sociology in Beijing’s prestigious Renmin University, from freshman year’s book salesperson to the moonlighting programmer in junior year.

His entrepreneurship in college culminated in pouring all the money he earned throughout the four years to acquire ownership of a badly managed diner near his school in his senior year.

However, the restaurant businesses closed up shop in a year after his staffers embezzled money from the daily operations and left the business in debt.

Undeterred with a steadfast faith to start up his own business, Liu founded another company in 1998, selling magneto-optical products in Beijing’s Zhongguancun, the largest electronics marketplace in the capital city of China.

In 2003, the year severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) swept over China forced the Chinese to stay indoor and resort to the internet for online shopping, Liu’s physical shop, just like many other brick-and-mortar businesses, was greatly affected.

Just like any the other business talents who sees and seizes opportunities in even difficulties, Liu sniffed a slight chance of growing a bigger business by moving his shop online, and launched JD in the following year of 2004.

12 years from then, Liu’s JD has grown into the second largest e-commerce powerhouse in China, listed in Nasdaq with a market cap of over $42.21 billion.

The self-made billionaire, now ranked at 230 on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, possesses a fortune of close to US$7 billion. Liu is also the 22nd most rich person in China, according to the same index.

 

This is a developing story, come back to check updates.