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JD.com Chief Richard Liu Will Not Be Charged With Sexual Assault

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Richard Liu, the Chinese billionaire accused of rape nearly four months ago by a young Chinese student at the University of Minnesota, will not be charged with sexual assault, prosecutors in Minneapolis said on Friday.

The county attorney’s office said it did not find enough evidence to pursue a case against Mr. Liu, a 45-year-old internet tycoon who was arrested in the early morning of Sept. 1 but released within hours and allowed to return to China.

The decision could bring Mr. Liu, who founded and leads JD.com, back to a more visible role at his e-commerce behemoth. JD.com’s stock has slumped since the accusations were revealed, and Mr. Liu, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, has skipped several public engagements.

“As is the case in too many sexual assault incidents, it was a complicated situation,” Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, said in a statement. “It is also similar to other sexual assault cases with the suspect maintaining the sex was consensual.”

In a statement on Chinese social media, Mr. Liu said that he had been unable “to address the situation or defend myself” to “avoid interfering with the independent investigation.”

JD.com said in a statement that it was pleased with the decision. Jill Brisbois, Mr. Liu’s lawyer, reiterated in a statement her “strong belief from the very beginning that my client is innocent,” adding that “Mr. Liu’s reputation has been damaged like anyone falsely accused of a crime” because of “misinformation and speculation that has been widely circulated.”

Wil Florin, a lawyer for the woman, said he was considering bringing a civil case, adding that prosecutors had made their decision having never met or spoken with his client. Chuck Laszewski, a spokesman for the county attorney’s office, declined to comment on Mr. Florin’s claim.

Mr. Liu was arrested this year while taking courses at the University of Minnesota. On the night of Aug. 30, he and a group of fellow students in the academic program dined at a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis. The occasion, involving some two dozen guests, was jovial. More than 30 bottles of wine had been brought in from a nearby liquor store.

Also present that evening was a 21-year-old woman, a Chinese student who was volunteering for the doctoral program. As she later told police, she had been invited to the dinner by another Chinese executive in the program, who asked her to sit next to Mr. Liu.

She told police that she got into a car with Mr. Liu after the dinner, and he began to touch her without her consent. She asked to be taken back to her apartment, where he forced himself upon her, despite her pleas, she told police.

But Ms. Brisbois, in an email, said the woman was being “flirtatious” in the car and agreed to the contact with Mr. Liu. Ms. Brisbois said that the woman invited Mr. Liu into her apartment building and that “what happened in the room was entirely consensual.”

“The woman was an active and willing participant and at no time did she indicate in any way that she did not consent,” Ms. Brisbois said. The following day, the woman sent text messages to friends saying that Mr. Liu had raped her.

Police were called to the apartment by a friend and fellow student, according to the county attorney’s office.

Ms. Brisbois said she spoke with the woman after Mr. Liu’s release, at the woman’s request. Over several phone calls and texts, the woman “made repeated demands for money, and threatened to make her allegations public and to sue Richard if her demands were not met,” Ms. Brisbois said.

Mr. Florin, the woman’s lawyer, said that a lawyer for Mr. Liu initiated contact with the woman about a settlement. Mr. Florin added that many of Ms. Brisbois’ descriptions of events are “directly contradicted by eyewitness testimony.”

The Minneapolis Police Department’s sex crimes unit conducted a “thorough investigation” into the case, the county attorney’s office said, followed by a “meticulous review” by four sexual assault prosecutors, a group of three men and one woman. They determined that “there were profound evidentiary problems which would have made it highly unlikely that any criminal charge could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Investigators reviewed surveillance video, text messages and witness statements. Among the evidence was footage from a body camera worn by an officer that recorded conversations between Mr. Liu and the woman at her apartment after police arrived.

The county attorney’s office declined to provide more detail, saying prosecutors “do not want to re-victimize the young woman.”

In his statement on social media, Mr. Liu apologized to his wife, Zhang Zetian, and said he felt “deep regret and remorse.”

“I will continue to try in every possible way to repair the impact on my family and to fulfill my responsibility as a husband,” he said.

In China, the incident exploded on social media. People scrutinized Minnesota police documents, speculated about whether Mr. Liu had been set up and pondered the glimpse they had gotten into the lives of the country’s ultrawealthy business elites.

JD.com is a proud emblem of China’s rising consumer class, and a major partner to global brands, like Adidas and Samsung, that use the platform. Walmart, Google and the Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent are all JD.com shareholders. And Mr. Liu is a celebrity tycoon whose rise from humble means to internet riches is the subject of many admiring books and television programs.

The company’s shares have lost around 60 percent of their value since early this year as it grappled with the accusations against Mr. Liu and slowing economic growth in China.

The company’s business has been under pressure recently. China’s economy is decelerating, and competition from rivals such as Alibaba has intensified. In November, JD.com said that its customer base had shrunk for the first time since the company went public in 2014. The retailer says it still serves more than 300 million shoppers.

The rape allegation against Mr. Liu has weighed on JD.com in part because he has never indicated who might succeed him as chief executive. Mr. Liu controls nearly 80 percent of shareholder votes at the company, thanks to a special class of stock with 20 times the voting power of regular shares.

As a result, the company’s board cannot make decisions without him present. Mr. Liu once told a television interviewer that his early experience running a failed restaurant taught him the need for an iron managerial grip.

That appears to be changing, a little. In a November conference call, Mr. Liu told analysts that he would focus more on strategy and new businesses at JD.com in the future, leaving more of the management of mature businesses to subordinates.

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The 3 Best Canadian Tech Stocks I Would Buy With $3,000 for 2021

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The majority of the Canadian tech stocks went through the roof in 2020 and delivered outsized returns. However, tech stocks witnessed sharp selling in the past 10 days, reflecting valuation concerns and expected normalization in demand. 

As these high-growth tech stocks shed some of their gains, I believe it’s time to accumulate them at current price levels to outperform the broader markets by a significant margin in 2021. Let’s dive into three tech stocks that have witnessed a pullback and are looking attractive bets. 

Lightspeed POS

Lightspeed POS (TSX:LSPD)(NYSE:LSPD) stock witnessed strong selling and is down about 33% in the last 10 days. I believe the selloff in Lightspeed presents an excellent opportunity for investors to invest in a high-growth and fundamentally strong company. 

Lightspeed witnessed an acceleration in demand for its digital products and services amid the pandemic. However, with the easing of lockdown measures and economic reopening, the demand for its products and services could normalize. Further, it faces tough year-over-year comparisons. 

Despite the normalization in demand, I believe the ongoing shift toward the omnichannel payment platform could continue to drive Lightspeed’s revenues and customer base. Besides, its accretive acquisitions, growing scale, and geographic expansion are likely to accelerate its growth and support the uptrend in its stock. Lightspeed stock is also expected to benefit from its growing average revenue per user, innovation, and up-selling initiatives.     

Shopify 

Like Lightspeed, Shopify (TSX:SHOP)(NYSE:SHOP) stock has also witnessed increased selling and has corrected by about 22% in the past 10 days. Notably, during the most recent quarter, Shopify said that it expects the vaccination and reopening of the economy to drive some of the consumer spending back to offline retail and services. Further, Shopify expects the pace of shift toward the e-commerce platform to return to the normal levels in 2021, which accelerated in 2020.

Despite the normalization in the pace of growth, a strong secular shift towards online commerce could continue to bring ample growth opportunities for Shopify, and the recent correction in its stock can be seen as a good buying opportunity. 

Shopify’s initiatives to ramp up its fulfillment network, international expansion and growing adoption of its payment platform are likely to drive strong growth in revenues and GMVs. Moreover, its strong new sales and marketing channels bode well for future growth. I remain upbeat on Shopify’s growth prospects and expect the company to continue to multiply investors’ wealth with each passing year. 

Docebo 

Docebo (TSX:DCBO)(NASDAQ:DCBO) stock is down about 21% in the last 10 days despite sustained momentum in its base business. The enterprise learning platform provider’s key performance metrics remain strong, implying that investors should capitalize on its low stock price and start accumulating its stock at the current levels. 

Docebo’s annual recurring revenue or ARR (a measure of future revenues) continues to grow at a brisk pace. Its ARR is expected to mark 55-57% growth in Q4. Meanwhile, its top line could increase by 48-52% during the same period. The company’s average contract value is growing at a healthy rate and is likely to increase by 22-24% during Q4. 

With the continued expansion of its customer base, geographical expansion, innovation, and opportunistic acquisitions, Docebo could deliver strong returns in 2021 and beyond.

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Manitoba to invest $6.5 million in new systems

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WINNIPEG – The province of Manitoba is investing $6.5 million over three years to replace technical systems used in healthcare facilities, including replacing current voice dictation and transcription services with more modern systems and upgrading the Provincial Health Contact Centre (PHCC)’s triage, call-recording and telephone systems, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson (pictured) announced.

“Our government is investing in the proper maintenance of information and communications technology to ensure digital health information can be safely stored and shared as needed,” said Stefanson. “These systems will ensure healthcare facilities can continue to provide high-quality services and allow Manitobans to get faster access to healthcare resources and information.”

Dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services are used by healthcare providers to write reports. There are currently approximately 80 healthcare sites across Manitoba using some combination of dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services. Many of these systems are nearing the end of their usable lifespans.

“Across our health system, radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians use voice-dictation services to help create diagnostic reports when reading imaging studies like ultrasound, nuclear medicine studies, X-rays, angiography, MRI and CT scans,” said Dr. Marco Essig, provincial specialty lead, diagnostic imaging, Shared Health. “Enhanced dictation and voice-recognition services will enable us to work more efficiently and provide healthcare providers with quicker access to these reports that support the diagnoses and treatment of Manitobans every day.”

The project will replace telephone-based dictation and transcription with voice-recognition functions, upgrade voice-recognition services for diagnostic imaging and enhance voice-recognition tools for mobile devices.

“Investing in more modern voice-transcription services will help our health-care workers do the administrative part of their jobs more quickly and effectively so they can get back to the most important part of their work – providing top-level healthcare and protecting Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “The transition to the new system will be made seamlessly so that services disruptions, which can lead to patient care safety risks, will not occur.”

The new systems will be compatible with other existing systems, will decrease turnaround times to improve patient care and will be standardized across the province to reduce ongoing costs and allow regional facilities to share resources as needed, Stefanson added.

The PHCC is a one-stop shop for incoming and outgoing citizen contact and supports programs such as Health Links–Info Santé, TeleCARE TeleSOINS and After-Hours Physician Access, as well as after-hours support services to public health, medical officers of health, home care and Manitoba Families.

The current vendor that supplies communications support to the PHCC is no longer providing service, making it an opportune time to invest in an upgraded system that will provide better service to Manitobans, the minister said, adding the project will provide the required systems and network infrastructure to continue providing essential services now and for the near future.

“The PHCC makes more than 650,000 customer service calls to Manitobans per year to a broad spectrum of clients with varied health issues. This reduces the need for people to visit a physician, urgent care or emergency departments,” said Stefanson. “The upgrade will also allow Manitobans in many communities to continue accessing the support they need from their home or local health centre, reducing the need for unnecessary travel.”

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Telus and UHN deliver services to the marginalized

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Telus’s Health for Good program has launched the latest of its specially equipped vans to provide medical services to the homeless and underserved, this time to the population of Toronto’s west end. The project relies not only on the hardware and software – the vans and technology – but on the care delivered by trained and socially sensitive medical professionals.

For the Toronto project, those professionals are working at the University Health Network’s Social Medicine program and the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. The city’s Parkdale community, in the west end, has a high concentration of homeless and marginalized people.

First launched in 2014, Telus’s Health for Good program has delivered mobile clinics to 13 Canadian cities, from Victoria to Halifax. Originally designed to deliver primary care, the program pivoted to meet the needs of patients in the COVID-19 pandemic, said Nimtaz Kanji, Calgary-based director of Telus Social Purpose Programs.

Angela Robertson of the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (CHC) asserted that marginalized people are particularly susceptible to the spread of COVID-19, as they don’t have access to the basic precautions that prevent its spread.

The clinic is located near a Pizza Pizza franchise; homeless people shelter under its overhang on the weekends, she said. Some have encampments under nearby bridges.

“The public health guidelines and requirements call for things that individuals who are homeless don’t have,” Robertson said. “If the response calls for isolation, that suggests people have places to isolate in.”

And in the shelter system, pre-COVID, the environment was very congregate, with many people in the same physical space, said Robertson. Some homeless persons, in order to keep themselves safe, have created encampments, and the city has opened up some hotel rooms across the city to create spaces for physical distancing.

Even proper hand-washing and hygiene becomes a challenge for the homeless.

“COVID calls for individuals to practice constant hand-washing. Oftentimes, individuals who are homeless use public washroom facilities that may be in restaurants or coffee shops, and many of those spaces are now closed. So there are limitations to accessing those facilities. It’s not like they’re in a community where there are public hand-washing facilities for people who are homeless.”

The mobile health clinic allows the CHC to take “pop-up testing” into communities where there is high positivity and where additional COVID testing is needed. The CHC can take testing into congregate sites and congregate housing to provide more testing, Robertson said.

“The other piece that we will use the van to do is, when the vaccine supply gets back online, and when the health system gets to doing community vaccinations … we hope that we can be part of that effort.”

COVID has contributed to a spike in cases of Toronto’s other pandemic: opioid overdoses. Some community members are reluctant to seek care because of the stigma attached to substance abuse; and COVID has a one-two punch for users.

The first rule of substance abuse is, don’t use alone; always be with someone who can respond to a potential overdose, ideally someone who can administer Nalaxone to reverse the effects of the overdose, Robertson said. “It’s substance abuse 101,” and the need for social distancing makes this impossible.

Secondly, COVID has affected the supply chain of street drugs. As a result, they’re being mixed increasingly with “toxic” impurities like Fentanyl that can be deadly.

The van itself is a Mercedes Sprinter, modified by architectural firm éKM architecture et aménagement and builder Zone Technologie, both based in Montréal. According to Car and Driver magazine, the Sprinter line – with 21 cargo models and 10 passenger versions – is “considered by many to be the king of cargo and passenger vans.”

Kanji said the platform was chosen for its reputation for reliability and robustness.

While the configuration is customized for each mobile clinic, it generally consists of two sections: A practitioner’s workstation and a more spacious and private examination room, so patients can receive treatment with privacy and dignity, Kanji said. The Parkdale clinic is 92 square feet.

“While the layouts vary across regions, they typically include an examination table and health practitioners’ workstation, including equipment necessary to provide primary healthcare,” the Telus vice-president of provider solutions wrote in an e-mail interview. The Parkdale Queen West mobile clinic is designed for primary medical services, including wound care, mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, harm reduction services, mental healthcare and counseling.

The clinic equipped with an electronic medical record (EMR) from TELUS Health and TELUS LTE Wi-Fi network technology.

Practitioners will be able to collect and store patient data, examine a patient’s results over time, and provide better continuity of care to those marginalized citizens who often would have had undocumented medical histories.

The EMR system is Telus Health’s PS Suite (formerly Practice Solutions). It is an easy-to-use, customizable solution for general and specialty practices that captures, organizes, and displays patient information in a user-friendly way. The solution allows for the electronic management of patient charts and scheduling, receipt of labs and hospital reports directly into the EMR, and personalization of workflows with customizable templates, toolbars, and encounter assistants.

But like others tested for COVID, it’s a 24-48 hour wait for results. Pop-up or not, how does the mobile team get results to patients who have no fixed address?

The CHC set up a centre for testing in a tent at the Waterfront Community Centre. Swabs are sent to the lab. “We are responsible for connecting back with community members and their results,” Robertson said.

“This is the value of having Parkdale Queen West being in front of the testing, because many of the community members who are homeless we know through our other services, and there is some trust in folks either coming to us to make arrangements to collect their results, or we know where they are.”

This is a key element of the program, said Kanji – leveraging community trust. In Vancouver downtown east side, for example, where there is a high concentration of marginalized members of the indigenous community, nurse practitioners are accompanied by native elders in a partnership with the Kilala Lelum Health Centre.

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