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Uber's boss has been indicted in South Korea and is facing a possible jail term

Officials say the ride-sharing app and a local rental company have been running an illegal taxi service.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Source: TechCrunch

THE HEAD OF controversial ride-sharing app Uber has been indicted for running an illegal taxi service in South Korea – and is facing a potential jail term for the charge.

The company’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, and the boss of its partner firm in the country have been accused of violating passenger transport laws in the Asian nation of about 50 million.

The charge carries a maximum 2-year jail term or fine of 20 millon won (€14,900) and relates to claims the operators were illegally running rental cars as taxis.

Uber has been operating its “black” service in the South Korean capital Seoul since last year, but city officials said they planned to ban the app because of safety concerns and the threat to licensed taxi drivers.

In a statement, the company said it would cooperate with authorities and it was confident the court would make a “fair and sensible” decision.

“We firmly believe that our service, which connects drivers and riders via an application, is not only legal in Korea, but that it is being welcomed and supported by consumers,” it said.

Being hit from multiple fronts

Uber’s black-car service connects passengers direct with limo and hire-car providers, but that move has fallen foul of governments like that of Seoul – which argue the drivers aren’t subject to the same licensing rules as sanctioned taxis.

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Spain Uber Source: Paul White/AP/Press Association Images

Officials in the Belgian capital of Brussels recently flagged that they would back a local taxi firm which was trying to shut down Uber for unfair competition.

But the backlash hasn’t stopped investors sinking big money into the 5-year-old San Francisco company, which was valued at $40 billion (€32.8 billion) on the latest fundraising round.

It is now in over 200 cities across the world – including Dublin – although it is facing multiple moves to shut down its operations as well as court cases stemming from incidents involving Uber drivers.

- with AFP

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Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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