- Chinese e-commerce company JD.com is set to launch in the US for the first time with Google’s help.
- JD.com will open an online store in the US while Google handles payments and backroom order processing.
- Meanwhile, JD.com founder and CEO Liu Qiangdong is being investigated for rape in Minnesota.
- He was arrested in late August but released shortly after. His representatives have repeatedly called the allegations false.
- Google has come under a lot of fire for its growing ties with China.
Google is helping a Chinese e-commerce giant launch in the US, while its founder and CEO is being investigated over an allegation of rape in Minnesota.
JD.com, which claims to be the largest retailer in China to sell directly to customers, said on Thursday that it will open an online store in the US with Google’s help by the end of 2018.
Meanwhile, Liu Qiangdong, the Chinese company’s founder and CEO, is the subject of a rape investigation in the US. He was arrested one August 31 on suspicion of rape in Minneapolis, where he was attending a business management course at the University of Minnesota.
Police have completed an investigation into the case, and have handed it over to prosecutors, who are examining the evidence and will decide whether to charge Liu. JD.com has strongly denied the allegation against its CEO.
Google’s growing ties with Beijing have come at a cost. The tech company is also planning to launch a censored search engine in China, which notoriously denies citizens access to information by censoring keywords and blocking websites.
Business Insider has contacted Google for comment.
Liu, who also uses the name Richard Liu, was detained for 16 hours before being released without charge and given no bail requirement. He left the US around two days after his release.
Representatives for JD.com have said that Liu was falsely accused and threatened to “take the necessary legal action against false reporting or rumours.”
Liu faces a first-degree felony if he is charged with the crime. If charged and convicted he could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Jill Brisbois, one of his attorneys, told Chinese media late last month that her team doesn’t think prosecutors will bring charges. JD.com jumped 5% shortly after Brisbois’ remarks were published.
The alleged victim, an unnamed 21-year-old University of Minnesota student, kept a bed sheet as evidence and went to hospital the day after the purported incident to have a sexual assault forensic test, Reuters reported. A JD.com spokeswoman said that information “doesn’t tell the full story.”
The unnamed student reportedly texted a friend that Liu “will suppress” the allegation, adding: “You underestimate his power.”
Police spent three weeks investigating the allegation, and handed it to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors there have not given a timeline for when they will make a decision on whether to charge Liu.
At time of publication they had not responded to numerous requests for comment from Business Insider about the status of the case.
The JD.com-Google partnership was first announced in June, with no particular timeline, but the announcements yesterday gave a timeline of the end of 2018.
The deal will allow the Chinese retailer to sell directly to US customers, while Google handles payments and backroom order processing. JD.com will also have its own centres for shipping orders.
A representative for JD.com confirmed the US launch plans to Business Insider but said a launch date had not yet been set.
On the rape allegation, it referred Business Insider to its previous statement, dated September 4.
It said: “We were informed that our CEO Richard Qiangdong Liu was taken into custody by Minneapolis police on August 31, 2018. He has been released without any charges, and without requirement for bail. Mr. Liu has returned to work in China.”
Liu has a net worth of $US10.8 billion, or £8.4 billion,according to Forbes. He was named by the latest Forbes billionaire list as the 16th-richest person in China and the 140th-richest person in the world.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.