uber-paris

Two Uber bosses have been arrested in Paris. TechCrunch reports that Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal and Uber Europe GM Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty were charged with running illegal taxi operations and concealing digital documents. The police started investigating Uber in November 2014 and raided its Paris office in March.

“Our CEO for France and GM for Western Europe were invited to a police hearing this afternoon; following this interview, they were taken into custody. We are always available to answer all the questions on our service, and available to the authorities to solve any problem that could come up. 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 told TC in a statement translated from French.

The arrests comes after French taxi drivers protested against Uber’s low cost UberPOP service in France (akin to our UberX) last week. The protest turned violent in places, with 70 cars damaged and some flipped over and burnt.

uberx-prices-comparisonIn Malaysia, UberPOP equivalent UberX doesn’t try to hide the fact that it undercuts cabbies

France’s interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve then ordered a ban on UberPOP, saying the service was “illegal” and ordered police and prosecutors to enforce its closure. Uber has responded by saying that it will only stop operating if ordered to do so by a court.

The French cabbies’ grouses are the same as their counterparts in cities around the world – they see UberPOP as unfair competition. Launched in February 2014 and recently expanded to smaller French cities, anyone can be an UberPOP driver, and a special professional license is not needed.

The French police has been issuing fines to UberPOP drivers for a couple of months now, but Uber pays for the fine. In Europe, UberPOP is already banned in Brussels and the Netherlands, besides France.

In Malaysia, Uber and MyTeksi’s GrabCar were the target of protests by the Malaysian Taxi Drivers’ Transformation Association (PERS1M) in PJ yesterday. PERS1M deputy chairman Kamarudin Mohd Hussain threatened to organise a larger demonstration that will involve blocking major roads around the city if SPAD and the authorities fail to address the issue.

“We’re fine with GrabCar operating. But it has to go through legal means – the service must be operated by qualified taxi drivers; they cannot simply use personal vehicles, or those that are not permitted. That’s what we are not OK with. They are taking away our income, that’s the problem,” he said.