UberPop, the French unit of the Uber Technologies, has been facing difficulties in London during the past week and now they are confronted by the regulatory pressure in Paris. The company claims that they fell under the political pressure which caused the local Paris prosecutors to bend the rules and gain criminal convictions against their two drivers.
Last year Uber was fined €800,000 (£701,470) together with Thibaud Simphal, the former head of operations in Uber Frence and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, the company’s general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The UberPop’s lawyer, Guillaume Pellegrin, says that political figures including former French president, Francois Hollande, have influenced the prosecution team to build the strongest case against the company. The prosecutors are accusing Uber of illegally operating a taxi service and using the driver’s personal data improperly.
In addition, last week Uber got their licence revoked by the Transport for London (TfL) authorities as a result of the company inadequately performing their driver’s background checks and not reporting their criminal records appropriately. This can be very alarming for Uber since their most profitable market is in London with more than 40,000 registered drivers.
Furthermore, the company used a programme called “Greyball” which enabled them to avoid regulators, as pointed out by TfL. Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi apologised in the name of the whole company and admitted they did not followed the global transportation industry rules strictly. Now the company is facing legal challenges on the global level as other taxi operators in the world are not letting them gain new territories.
Pellegrin said the authorities have not provided the defense team with sufficient evidence for the case go to court. Adding:
“No one was harmed by this infringement, which was created out of thin air by the prosecution to ensure the accusation was as harsh as possible.”
The appeal court judges confirmed that they would issue their decision on request to void the court decision on the data allegations on November 7th. One of the judges said the two man working unlawfully encouraged others to work for Uber as well. This caused other taxi drivers to riot and go on strike all around Paris. All the protests and legal difficulties together with the government’s disapproval urged the company to establish a support fund for drivers and create a series of initiatives for drivers varying from extra insurance to loans.
The two accused men and UberPop have appealed the verdict and the trial begun on Monday.