Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong's case turned over to Minnesota prosecutors

- The Minneapolis Police Department’s investigation into a sexual assault allegation against Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong has been turned over to prosecutors, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

Freeman said Minneapolis police completed their initial investigation and his prosecutors will now review all of the evidence and make a decision on whether to bring criminal charges. There is no deadline for making that decision. 

Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, is the founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com. Liu, 45, was arrested Friday, Aug. 31 in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct. He was released the next day.

"The decision was made not to hold him in custody while we conducted the investigation," Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told Fox 9.

Minnesota law defines five degrees of criminal sexual misconduct, ranging from a gross misdemeanor to felonies, covering a broad array of conduct ranging from nonconsensual touching to violent assaults with injuries. The jail records for Liu don't indicate a degree.

JD.com, the main rival to Alibaba Group, said in a statement posted Sunday on the Chinese social media site Weibo that Liu was falsely accused while in the U.S. on a business trip, but that police investigators found no misconduct and that he would continue his journey as planned.

"We will take the necessary legal action against false reporting or rumors," the company said.

Liu recently tried to distance himself from a sexual assault allegations against a guest at a 2015 party at Liu's penthouse in Australia. Liu was not charged or accused of wrongdoing, but Australian media reported he tried unsuccessfully to get a court to prevent the release of his name in that case. The guest was convicted.

In June, Google said it would invest $550 million in JD.com. The investment reflected an effort by the U.S. tech company to expand its reach into Asian e-commerce.

JD.com is China's second-largest e-commerce company after Alibaba. Among its other investors is Chinese internet gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings, the developer of the WeChat messenger app and a major rival of Alibaba, and U.S. retailer Walmart Inc. 

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