"During a business trip to the United States, Mr. Liu was questioned by police in Minnesota in relation to an unsubstantiated accusation", the company said in a statement to Reuters on September 2. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said an investigation was ongoing and declined to provide details of the arrest.
Liu is known for pushing the company toward "100 percent" automation and speaking at global conferences about reducing the need for workers.
JD said it planned to make a selection of items available for sale in places like Europe and the U.S. through Google Shopping, which allows shoppers to search for products and compare prices on different e-commerce sites. According to the Wall Street Journal, Liu was held on probable cause and released without bail.
JD.com is China's second-largest e-commerce company after Alibaba.
His wife, Zhang Zetian, some 19 years younger, is a businesswomen and internet celebrity. They met when Zhang was studying in the United States, married in 2015, and now have a daughter. JD.com was quick to defend its leader, saying that law enforcement had grilled him over an "unsubstantiated accusation" and let him go when it determined there was "no substance". The person, who asked not to be named because of the risks of speaking publicly, added that Liu traveled a lot and his lifestyle was seen as "very luxurious" to staff. He tried to distance himself from a sexual assault that was said to have taken place after a 2015 party at his penthouse in Australia.
Liu was not accused of wrongdoing, according to a court document.
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The lawyers, based in Minneapolis, could not immediately be reached by Reuters for comment.
The arrest does underscores a potential fault line in JD.com's corporate governance.
He owns almost 16% of the company's shares and controls just under 80% of its voting rights, giving him huge sway over key decisions.
Liu built JD.com from scratch.
Liu built JD.com from scratch. He has also said he enjoys hard work and dislikes relaxing too much, often working 16-hour days. Liu grew up in a poor part of eastern China before attending the prestigious Renmin University in Beijing.
Liu was apparently in Minneapolis because he is enrolled as a student at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management in its Doctor of Business Administration China program.