Uber: Police swoop in two countries

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 18 Maret 2015 | 23.58

18 March 2015 Last updated at 13:56

Uber's Paris offices have been raided by police investigating its UberPop service, the company has confirmed.

Separately, nearly 30 people linked to the company, including chief executive Travis Kalanick, have been charged with running an illegal taxi firm in South Korea.

Uber said its South Korean staff had not broken any laws and called the Paris raid "disproportionate".

That came as a German court was due to rule on the legality of Uber's service.

On Monday, 30 police officers descended on Uber's French headquarters looking for information, the company said.

A spokesman told the BBC that the officers stayed all day and took away mobile phones that were intended for the use of Uber drivers.

He called the raid "intimidation", saying: "Why would they send 30 police officers? We are 46 [people] here. The only things we have are computers and telephones."

Uber said the police investigation was based on French legislation it has already complained to the European Commission about, and was confident would be scrapped.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), dozens of non-professional UberPop users have been fined since the start of the year.

UberPop has been ruled illegal in France, but the company has appealed against a €100,000 (£72,000) fine it received last year, it said.

According to a report from the South Korean news agency Yonhap, 29 people connected to Uber were charged in total.

The agency reported that Mr Kalanick, who has already been indicted on charges of establishing and running Uber Korea, was charged again on suspicion of conducting an illegal business, citing local police sources.

Mr Kalanick was reported to have remained in the United States and to have refused to stand trial in South Korea.

"We plan to summon Kalanick soon and check the transaction details of overseas bank accounts to conduct further investigation into those involved in the case.

"If Kalanick continues to disobey the summons, we plan to seek an arrest warrant against him," a police official told Yonhap on condition of anonymity.

Among those also charged were the heads of six different car rental firms, who were suspected of connecting passengers with nearby drivers through the UberTaxi app without a licence, police told Yonhap.

According to the reports, police said the Uber app posed a risk for passenger safety because drivers were not screened, cars were uninsured and mobile phone numbers and credit card numbers could be leaked.

Police also said Uber Korea took 20% of passengers' taxi fares as commission and paid the remainder to drivers.

By providing such services, one car rental firm made 96 million won (£58,000) in three months, officers claimed.

Asked about the reports, an Uber spokesman said: "Uber has fully cooperated with the police during the course of their investigation and we will continue to do so as the matter is referred to the prosecution for review.

"Uber does not believe the employees in Korea have engaged in any misconduct or illegal behaviour. We believe the prosecutors will come to a similar conclusion."

In Frankfurt, a court is due to rule on whether Uber's novel taxi-hailing service violates driver licensing rules, a decision that could lead to a nationwide ban on the service, Reuters reported.

The case brought against Uber by German taxi operator group Taxi Deutschland is one of more than a dozen lawsuits filed across Europe in recent months by taxi industry associations against the San Francisco-based company.

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