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Chinese e-merchant built fortune on pledge of honesty

BEIJING — The Chinese e-commerce billionaire who faces a possible rape accusation in Minneapolis built his business by promising honesty in a market plagued by fraud and fakes.

Richard Liu, founder of JD.com, was arrested Friday and released a day later pending possible criminal charges. His company says he was back in Beijing on Monday.

The 45-year-old Liu is one of the most prominent members of a generation of Chinese tech entrepreneurs that includes Jack Ma of rival e-commerce outlet Alibaba Group and Ma Huateng of Tencent, a games and social media giant.

Liu’s sales pitch when JD went online in 2003 was unusual: No counterfeits in a market that had suffered repeated scandals over fake and sometimes deadly milk, medicine and other goods.