BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com Inc said yesterday that CEO Richard Liu has returned to China to work following his arrest and temporary detainment in the United States on suspicion of criminal sexual misconduct.
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US police said that the investigation is ongoing. Mr Liu was detained on Friday and released on Saturday.
The Chinese company has said the accusation against Mr Liu, 45, is unsubstantiated. Police in Minneapolis say they are investigating, though Mr Liu was released after a night in jail, and JD.com said on Monday he had returned to China.
But the case is likely to put pressure on Mr Liu, who has a reputation for a luxurious lifestyle but insists on a “clean” company, cracking down on counterfeit goods and corruption.
“I think there is a feeling in the company that we are morally superior to Alibaba,” a company insider said, adding that Mr Liu was “aggressive” but “generally very well liked.”
Mr Liu started the company that would become JD.com in 1998, spending 12,000 yuan ($1,760.54) of his savings to lease a 4-square-meter retail space in Beijing’s technology hub of Zhongguancun.
The firm, also known as “Jingdong,” got its name from a combination of part of Mr Liu’s Chinese first name, Qiangdong, and that of his girlfriend at the time, Xiaojing.
Mr Liu frequently talks up his rags-to-riches story of growing up poor in Jiangsu province. He has said on several occasions that part of his motivation for setting up the firm was to help buy medicine for his grandmother.
At first, the business was focused on opening brick-and-mortar stores selling mostly electronics. But Mr Liu shifted online in 2004 after a SARS epidemic that forced him to shut down many of the locations.