Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick was indicted in South Korea and Chinese police raided a company training site in the latest instances of government scrutiny of the car-booking company.
Kalanick, Uber’s Korean unit and car-rental partner MK Korea were indicted yesterday by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office for flouting a local transportation law prohibiting rental cars from operating as cabs, according to an official at the department, who asked not to be named citing internal policy. The official declined to comment on whether prosecutors expect Kalanick to appear for questioning.
In the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing, police raided a site that Uber used to train drivers after receiving information that private vehicle owners were signing up to provide transportation services without the required permit, the China News Service reported on Friday. The company is “actively communicating and seeking clarification” from the Chongqing government, it said in an e-mailed statement.
Uber became the most highly valued U.S. technology startup after a fundraising round this month valued it at $40 billion. The San Francisco-based car-booking company is coming under increased scrutiny worldwide as governments step up regulation of its car-sharing service, which licensed taxi operators call unfair competition.
In Asia, the company’s screening practice was criticized after allegations that one of its drivers raped a woman in New Delhi, while Vietnam and Taiwan have declared its services to be illegal.
Evelyn Tay, Uber’s Asia Pacific spokeswoman, didn’t answer two calls to her office or immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the indictment in South Korea, which was reported earlier by Yonhap News.
The company said in August it had sought a legal opinion and that its Seoul service obeys the law. Paid transportation with unregistered vehicles is “clearly illegal activity,” South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said later that month.
Separately in Korea, Yonhap News reported that prosecutors plan to seek an arrest warrant for Heather Cho, daughter of Korean Air Lines Co.’s chairman, after she forced an employee to deplane over the service of macademia nuts. Phone calls to the prosecutors’ office weren’t answered.
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