BEIJING (Reuters) - A rape accusation levelled against JD.com (JD.O) CEO and founder Richard Liu has highlighted the lack of a No. 2 lieutenant among senior management at the e-commerce giant, exacerbating concerns about the case among investors.
Liu, 45, was arrested on Friday and detained for around 16 hours by police in Minnesota, who are continuing to investigate the matter. Liu, who through his lawyers has denied any wrongdoing, has returned to work in China. His U.S. attorneys say it is unlikely he will face charges.
“In China, the company is the leader. For Alibaba that’s Jack Ma, for us it’s Richard Liu,” said one person who works at JD.com.
“To remove your top executive is to cut the head off the snake,” said the person, who was not authorised to speak publicly about the matter and declined to be identified.
The company currently lists no chief operating officer. Shen Haoyu, who had been COO since 2011 and headed its JD Mall business, stepped down from the role two years ago. The firm started a rotating CEO role in July for the JD Mall unit.
According to Minnesota law, the maximum penalty if found guilty of first degree sexual assault is 30 years and the minimum is 12 years. In the two days of trade since the arrest, JD.com has lost $7.2 billion (5.6 billion pounds) or 16 percent of its market value.
Below are the top five executives under Liu. Exact ages for the executives were not immediately available, but only Zhang and Huang are over 50.
The current CEO of JD Mall, the company’s core service and main revenue driver. Xu took up the position of chief marketing officer last year but has held various roles at the company since 2010.
A Western-educated accountant, Huang has been chief financial officer since 2013 after finance positions at a range of Chinese internet and other tech firms.
He has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and worked with Citigroup as an investment banker in the early 2000s. He speaks regularly on JD.com earnings calls.
A long-time Yahoo executive who led the development of Yahoo Messenger, Zhang is JD.com’s chief technology officer in charge of R&D in cloud computing and data-driven advertising - key focus areas for the company.
JD.com’s chief public affairs officer, Lan is responsible for dealing with outside partners and backers. He was previously the company’s chief marketing officer. Before joining JD.com, he was chief executive at computer maker Founder Technology and a sales executive at Lenovo.
An attorney, Long is the only woman on JD.com’s leadership team. She is JD.com’s general counsel and the company’s human resources head. She joined in 2012.
Reporting by Cate Cadell and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Edwina Gibbs