2 Uber executives ordered to stand trial in France

Two Uber France managers have been ordered to stand trial to face charges including “deceptive commercial practices” and complicity in illegal activities linked to its low-cost ride-hailing service, the Paris prosecutor's office said Tuesday.

Thibault Simphal and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, who have been targeted in their capacities as representatives of the San Francisco-based company, were taken into custody on Monday after a police sweep at Uber France headquarters. They were later released and ordered to appear in a Paris criminal court on Sept. 30.

A spokesman for Uber France could not immediately be reached for comment.

The app-based service connects drivers with riders, while the low-cost UberPop links users to drivers without professional taxi or chauffeur licenses.

French authorities say UberPop is illegal and have expressed frustration that Uber doesn't pay the same taxes and social charges as traditional taxis. Uber insists the French system is outdated and says it needs reform to keep up with technological changes.

Tensions have been growing over the issue. Claiming unfair competition, taxi drivers staged a violence-marred strike on the issue last week, blocking many roads across France.

A law banning UberPop was approved in October, but its drivers continue to ply French roads. The company has been actively recruiting drivers and passengers alike. Uber claims to have a total of 400,000 customers a month in France.

The prosecutor's office mobilized a special transportation police force and another that focuses on fraud related to information technology as part of a probe of Uber opened in November. It said 202 people have been fined and one was handed a 15-day suspended prison sentence. Another 79 cases are underway.

The six counts faced by the Uber executives include “deceptive commercial practices,” complicity in instigating an illegal taxi-driving activity, and the illegal stocking of personal information.

San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc. has also run into legal problems elsewhere in Europe, as well as in China and India.

 

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