A businessman sits on a chair and holds a cigar while he looks over a city at night. Photo: iStock
A businessman sits on a chair and holds a cigar while he looks over a city at night. Photo: iStock

JD.com founder Richard Liu Qiangdong might have lost half his paper wealth in 2018, but he should be happy that he’ll be home for Christmas.

The Chinese billionaire will not face felony rape charges in the United States after he was cleared of further prosecution due to insufficient evidence over the accusation in the summer.

Shares in China’s second largest e-commerce portal fell almost half in the last four months on worries that Liu might be charged, on top of the strength of the technology sector.

China’s technology sector was a victim of a poor equity market which wiped out a large chunk of the paper wealth of the top Chinese tycoons.

Up to 128 businessmen in the 500 Bloomberg Billionaires Index lost a total of more than US$137 billion this year. From Pony Ma Huateng of Tencent to Jack Ma Yun of Alibaba Group to Li Ka-shing of CK Hutchison, the total wealth of the Asian tycoons dropped for the first time in 2012, bringing a halt to the world’s fastest-growing source of mega-wealth.

UBS economist Philip Wyatt said: “Difficult stock market conditions this year and the uncertainty of the trade tensions likely have been a challenge to many businesses.”

More than two-thirds of the 40 Chinese on the Bloomberg ranking saw their wealth dwindle, according to Bloomberg. Among them, Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin suffered the most with a loss of $10.8 billion, according to Bloomberg.

JD.com’s Richard Liu suffered a paper loss of $4.8 billion, which was less than Li Ka-shing, who lost $6 billion.

Jack Ma topped the list of Chinese tycoons with a net worth of $34.6 billion, despite a drop of $4 billion, followed by Tencent chairman Pony Ma, who lost $6 billion, according to Forbes.

But there were still winners from a sluggish 2018, especially the new kids of the block. Xiaomei Corp chairman Lei Jun added $8.7 billion to his wealth after his mega listing, which also took three of the seven founders into the billionaire’s list.

Another notable winner was Colin Huang, the founder and chief executive of e-commerce company Pinduoduo, who added $6.6 billion to his wealth after his flagship’s listing on the Nasdaq.

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