Hong Kong/Shanghai — A US police investigation into an allegation of rape against JD.com CEO Richard Liu has hammered the e-commerce giant’s shares, with the case laying bare risks posed by his iron grip on management and the lack of other leaders to challenge him. Liu was arrested and then released without charge in the US city of Minneapolis last week. Through his lawyers, he has denied any wrongdoing. While the tech industry is known for the outsized control that founders like Liu have over their businesses, China’s tech leaders tend to be all-powerful, exacerbating governance risks. Liu’s control of JD.com in particular has raised eyebrows given company rules that make it virtually impossible for the board to make decisions without him present. "There is so much more hierarchy and less willingness to challenge the boss and less collective leadership around Chinese iconic leaders," said James Robinson, MD in Shanghai for public relations firm Apco Worldwide. Robinson added that t...

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