September 20, 2018 / 3:05 PM / in a month

Minneapolis prosecutors weighing evidence in JD.com CEO case

(Reuters) - Prosecutors are weighing whether to bring charges against Chinese businessman Richard Liu after the Minneapolis Police Department turned over the findings of its initial investigation into accusations of rape against the JD.com (JD.O) chief executive, according to a statement released on Thursday by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

FILE PHOTO: Richard Liu, CEO and founder of China's e-commerce company JD.com, attends a France-Chinese forum on the applications of artificial intelligence at SOHO 3Q in Beijing, China January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

There will be no further comment on the matter until that decision is made, the statement said, and there is no deadline for a decision.

Liu, founder of head of China’s second-biggest online retailer behind Alibaba (BABA.N), was visiting Minneapolis for an academic program at the University of Minnesota when he was arrested by city police on Aug. 31 on suspicion of rape. He was released in less than a day without charges or a bail requirement and has since returned to China.

A Minnesota-based lawyer for Liu, Earl Gray, previously said that Liu denies any wrongdoing, and that he does not expect his client to be charged. Gray declined to comment on Thursday.

JD.com, backed by Walmart Inc (WMT.N), Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK), wrote in a statement on Sept. 6 that Liu had “resumed his work at JD.com and there is no interruption to our day-to-day business operations.” It added that he would be willing to cooperate further with law enforcement.

The woman who accused Liu has cooperated with police and is prepared to do the same with prosecutors, two law firms representing her, Florin Roebig and Hang & Associates, said in an emailed statement on Thursday. They offered no further comment.

Liu is the highest-profile Chinese businessperson to be publicly accused of sexual misconduct. The case has raised concerns over JD.com in Liu’s absence. The company’s rules require Liu, who holds nearly 80 percent of the company’s voting rights, to be present at board meetings for the board to make decisions.

Reporting by Lawrence Delevingne and Gui Qing Koh; Editing by Bill Rigby

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