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Technology Chief Richard Liu Will Not Be Charged With Sexual Assault




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, back to a more visible role at his e-commerce behemoth.’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.” 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. 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 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, 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 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 in the future, leaving more of the management of mature businesses to subordinates.


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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton




OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training




Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test




While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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