Sex­ual as­sault charges dropped against e-com­merce gi­ant’s CEO

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Top News - By FAN FEIFEI fan­[email protected]­

Liu Qiang­dong, the bil­lion­aire founder and CEO of Chi­nese e-com­merce gi­ant JD, will not face sex­ual as­sault charges in the United States, as pros­e­cu­tors said they could not prove his guilt be­yond a rea­son­able doubt.

In­dus­try in­sid­ers say Liu’s case in the US has a lim­ited im­pact on the over­all per­for­mance of the com­pany in the long run but that JD is now fac­ing tougher competition from ri­vals such as Alibaba. The com­pany’s shares lost about 60 per­cent of their value since early this year as it grap­pled with the ac­cu­sa­tions against Liu.

Chen Tao, an an­a­lyst at the Bei­jing-based con­sul­tancy Analysys, said as con­sumers pay more at­ten­tion to the qual­ity and value of prod­ucts sold on the e-com­merce plat­form, Liu’s in­ci­dent will not have a direct in­flu­ence on the daily op­er­a­tion of the com­pany.

“How­ever, JD’s reach in first and se­cond-tier cities is high, or close to sat­u­ra­tion. It should seek new growth en­gines and pour more re­sources into smaller cities and ru­ral ar­eas,” Chen said.

Hong Tao, an an­a­lyst from GF Se­cu­ri­ties said the tech heavy­weight has faced trou­bles. JD’s ad­vanced lo­gis­tics sys­tem, which is its core strength, has been over­taken by Alibaba’s Cainiao Lo­gis­tics, and the short­age of com­mod­ity cat­e­gories at its on­line mar­ket­place has also af­fected the rapid growth of JD’s busi­nesses, Hong said.

The Hen­nepin County At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, the pros­e­cu­to­rial of­fice han­dling the case, de­ter­mined af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Minneapolis Po­lice Depart­ment’s sex crimes unit and a re­view by four se­nior sex­ual as­sault pros­e­cu­tors that ev­i­den­tiary prob­lems would have made it highly un­likely that crim­i­nal charges against Liu could be proved be­yond a rea­son­able doubt.

In a state­ment, County At­tor­ney Mike Free­man said on Fri­day that as pros­e­cu­tors re­viewed sur­veil­lance video, text mes­sages, po­lice body cam­era video and wit­ness state­ments, “It be­came clear that we could not meet our bur­den of proof and, there­fore, we could not bring charges.”

JD said on Satur­day it was pleased to see this de­ci­sion.

Liu is­sued a state­ment on his Weibo so­cial me­dia ac­count af­ter the Minneapolis au­thor­i­ties an­nounced they would not file charges against him.

“This proves I broke no law, how­ever, my in­ter­ac­tions with the woman have hurt my fam­ily greatly, es­pe­cially my wife. I feel deep re­gret and re­morse and hope she can ac­cept my sin­cere apol­ogy,” Liu said.

“I will con­tinue to try in ev­ery pos­si­ble way to re­pair the im­pact on my fam­ily and ful­fill my re­spon­si­bil­ity as a hus­band.” Liu added. He did not re­spond to com­ments on the in­ter­net while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was on­go­ing to avoid in­ter­fer­ing with po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors.

JD has re­ported its slow­est quar­terly rev­enue growth, with third quar­ter net rev­enue reach­ing 104.8 bil­lion yuan ($15.2 bil­lion), a 25.1 per­cent year-on-year in­crease. An­a­lysts polled by fi­nan­cial data and an­a­lyt­ics firm Fac­tSet had es­ti­mated that JD would re­port rev­enue of 106.09 bil­lion yuan in the third quar­ter.

Liu was ar­rested in Minneapolis, Min­nesota, on sus­pi­cion of crim­i­nal sex­ual con­duct on Aug 31 and later re­leased with­out charge or bail. He re­turned to China on Sept 3.

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