Uber managers arrested in France on ‘illicit activity’

French police detained two Uber managers for running illegal company

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Two Uber managers have been detained by French police over running illegal taxi company.

Uber company offers a local transport service UberPOP which enables users to book cars with non-professional drivers through their applications with lower prices.

Around 2,800 French taxi drivers protested against US app UberPOP last week, forming blockades around airports and train stations, which caused major delays and chaos in the French capital Paris.

The violent strike followed weeks of rising tensions as licensed taxi drivers claimed that UberPOP was threatening their jobs by providing private drivers at prices lower than traditional taxis.

French media showed images of police in riot gear firing tear gas to disperse the crowd and to clear the roads blocked off by burning tyres.

In January UberPOP was banned in France, however, the law proved it was challenging to enforce and the service continued to operate.

Uber France manager Thibaud Simphal and Uber western Europe’s general manager Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, however, are now in police custody after being arrested following the protests.

An Uber spokesman sent an email to the press saying "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."

"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," the email continued.

“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.”

France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve decided to ban UberPOP services after the violent strikes, claiming Uber’s service was “illegal.”

The French government on Friday applied to ban its cheapest service UberPOP in France, like Belgium and the Netherlands.

Cazeneuve told RTL that "the complaint I filed yesterday is wide enough to cover the statements of UberPOP managers," adding that inciting people to defy the ban was "a criminal offence.”

Although the ban has been applied in some places in France, Uber officials said that they will continue to offer their services in France until a court order has been issued to stop them officially.

Uber has been operating in Paris since 2011 and claims to have 400,000 users in France.

However, unlike ordinary taxi drivers, Uber drivers do not pay taxes and do not take the compulsory 250 hours of training undergone by taxi drivers.

From its beginning, Uber has been the target of criticism of taxi drivers all over the world. The company has been operating in 250 cities and 57 countries with a 50 billion dollar market value.

TRTWorld and agencies