• Uber Executives Arrested In France

    French police arrested Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal and Uber Europe GM Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty Monday, charging them with “operating an illegal taxi service.”

    The news, originally broken by Agence France-Presse, comes just days after violent protests of French taxi drivers who accuse Uber of creating unfair competition by failing to comply with regulations governing traditional taxis.

    In addition to blocking roadways in Paris and other major cities with burning tires and overturned vehicles, the cabbies exacted physical retribution on Uber drivers, at one point even dropping a boulder from an overpass onto an Uber car stopped in traffic below. (VIDEO: French Taxi Drivers Drop Boulder on Uber Driver)

    In response to the protests, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve issued a statement affirming that, “UberPOP is illegal,” and instructing police to step up enforcement efforts against the company, which up until now had been directed mainly against drivers.

    The executives are accused not only of running an illegal taxi operation, but also of concealing digital documents, the latter accusation most likely stemming from a police raid on Uber’s Paris office in March, according to Tech Crunch. The police claim that certain documents were missing from Uber’s offices when the raid was conducted, impeding an investigation that has been ongoing since November 2014.

    A spokesperson for Uber told Tech Crunch that Simphal and Gore-Coty were taken into custody after voluntarily appearing in person for questioning. (RELATED: Anti-Uber Efforts Mostly Fizzling)

    “Our CEO for France and General Manager for Western Europe were invited to a police hearing this afternoon; following this interview, they were taken into custody,” the spokesperson explained. “Talks are in progress. In the meantime, we keep working in order to make sure that both our customers and drivers are safe following last week’s turmoils.”

    Uber is currently in a state of legal limbo in France, according to The Local, an English-language European news site. The service is technically illegal under a law passed late last year requiring drivers to hold professional licenses, but is allowed to continue operating until the French Constitutional Council issues a ruling on the legality of that law, most likely in September.

    The French government, however, is apparently not interested in waiting for a final judgment, announcing Monday that 200 additional police officers would be assigned to patrol for Uber drivers. If caught, drivers face penalties ranging from fines to the seizure of their personal vehicles. (RELATED: France Surrenders to Cabbies After Violent Uber Protest)

    European cities such as Berlin and Amsterdam, as well as the entire nation of Spain, have also banned Uber, ostensibly over similar regulatory objections. Uber describes the bans as discrimination among market participants, and is appealing to the European Commission to intervene on its behalf.

    Follow Peter Fricke on Twitter


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