Richard Liu, 45, was arrested on August 31 on suspicion of rape but was released 17 hours later without being charged
New details have emerged about the previously mysterious events which led to Chinese billionaire Richard Liu being accused of rape by a 21-year-old University of Minnesota student last month.
On August 31, 45-year-old Liu, who is worth $6.7billion, was arrested on campus, where he had been attending a business course, and was taken to jail after the student, who has not been identified, told police and college officials that he forced her to have sex with him.
They had spent the night before at her apartment after attending a group dinner at Origami Uptown, a Japanese restaurant, where Liu ordered everything on the menu for the group of 24.
Of the two dozen people present, 20 were men, according to people present. He paid the $2,200 bill.
According to the student, the dinner was a ‘trap’ designed to get her drunk and afterwards, Liu, the founder of ecommerce giant JD.com Inc, forced her into his rental car and starting touching her inappropriately.
They had driven to a home with the rest of the group where other Chinese businessmen who were attending Liu’s course gathered every night to drink, smoke and eat Chinese food.
The course was a business doctoral program run jointly by the University of Minnesota´s Carlson School of Management and China´s elite Tsinghua University. He was only there briefly to attend.
While the others made their way inside, Liu allegedly forced the girl into his car and then drove with her to her apartment.
At around 1am, she texted a friend on the Chinese encrypted messaging app WeChat saying he had forced her into sex.
She begged the friend not to phone the police because she feared Liu’s power and influence, but the friend did so anyway.
In the morning, officers arrived at the apartment while he was still there and asked if there was a problem which she denied.
Over the course of the next day, she told more friends what had happened and then went to university officials to formally accuse him.
He was taken into custody but was released without charge 17 hours later and has since flown back to China where he lives with his 24-year-old wife and their two young children.
Liu, who is also known as Liu Qiangdong, denies any wrongdoing and says he has been falsely accused.
Liu is pictured with his 24-year-old wife Zhang Zetian in October last year. He denies wrongdoing and says he was falsely accused
On the night of the alleged rape, the student texted a friend saying: ‘I was not willing.
‘Tomorrow I will think of a way to escape,’ according to Reuters.
When the friend asked her why she did not want to involve police, she replied: ‘He will suppress it. You underestimate his power.’
Later, she told how the alleged encounter had left her feeling suicidal.
She said that she would have killed herself but that it would make her parents too upset.
The dinner ended at around 9.30pm. There were many people present and Liu, who ate sashimi, ordered by running his finger down the entire side of the menu to indicate that he wanted everything.
With beer, wine and sake flowing, the girl said she believed it was intended to get her drunk.
‘It was a trap. I was really drunk,’ she told her friend.
After dinner, one of the people present was so drunk that he had to be helped out of the restaurant by three friends.
The Chinese billionaire’s spokesman for JD.com issued this statement on Weuibo after he was released from US custody and returned to China. It has been translated (above) from its original form
Security footage of their meal which has been viewed by Reuters shows them toasting each other throughout the night.
The group then traveled to the rented house where the men gathered after the program but she and Liu did not go inside.
In the WeChat message to one of her friends sent hours later, the student said Liu ‘started to touch me in the car.’
‘Then I begged him not to… but he did not listen,’ she wrote.
They ended up back at her apartment, according to sources with knowledge of the matter. According to the police report, the alleged rape occurred at around 1 a.m.
After contacting her friend about what had happened, Minneapolis police went to the woman’s house that morning but she declined to press charges while he was there.
Once he had gone, she changed her position and told another friend, the police and at least one teacher. She vowed to keep her sheets and called them ‘evidence’ which ‘cannot be thrown away’.
At 9pm that night, 24 hours after the dinner, the University of Minnesota called emergency police to one of their offices.
When officers arrived, the student was waiting to formally accuse the billionaire of rape.
Liu came to the university office around 11 p.m. while police were there, according to the person familiar with the matter. As an officer handcuffed him, Liu showed no emotion. ‘I need an interpreter,’ he said, according to the source.
Liu was released about 17 hours later. Minneapolis police have said previously that they can only hold a person without charges for 36 hours.
Within days, Liu was back in China, which has no extradition treaty with the United States.
He has since denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement uploaded to Weibo that he is the victim of a false accusation.
When asked about the WeChat exchange, one of his spokeswomen said they did not tell the full story.
Jill Brisbois, a lawyer for Liu, said he maintains his innocence and has cooperated fully with the investigation.
‘These allegations are inconsistent with evidence that we hope will be disclosed to the public once the case is closed,’ Brisbois wrote in an email response to detailed questions from Reuters.
Florin Roebig and Hang & Associates, the law firms representing the woman, said in an email that their client had ‘fully cooperated’ with police and was also prepared to assist prosecutors. Florin, asked if his client planned to file a civil suit against Liu, said, ‘Our legal intentions with regard to Mr. Liu and others will be revealed at the appropriate time.’
Representatives for both Liu and the student declined requests to interview their clients.
The police department has turned over the findings of its initial investigation into the matter to local prosecutors for a decision on whether to bring charges against Liu.
There is no deadline for making that decision, according to the Hennepin County Attorney´s Office.
The Minneapolis police and the county attorney declined to comment on detailed questions from Reuters.
The case has drawn intense scrutiny globally and in China, where the tycoon, also known as Liu Qiangdong, is celebrated for his rags-to-riches story.
Liu, 45, is married to Zhang Zetian, described by Chinese media as 24-years old, who has become a celebrity in China and works to promote JD.com.
As the second-largest ecommerce website in the country after Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the company has attracted investors such as Walmart Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and China’s Tencent Holdings.
Liu holds nearly 80 percent of the voting rights in JD.com.
Shares in the company have fallen about 15 percent since Liu’ arrest and are down about 36 percent for the year.