PARIS (Reuters) - Two executives from California-based Uber will face trial in France on Sept. 30, the Paris public prosecutor said on Tuesday, part of a French crackdown on what the government calls an illegal taxi service.
Thibaud Simphal, manager of Uber France, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, general manager for western Europe, were detained by police on Monday in an investigation that earlier led to Uber’s offices being raided by police in March.
The investigation focuses on one of the company’s local transport options known as UberPOP, which allows passengers to book rides with private drivers via mobile phones, a service which licensed taxi operators say is unfair competition.
A French law from October 2014 already placed a ban on putting clients in touch with unregistered drivers with apps such as UberPOP. But Uber has contested the rule, saying it is counter to the right to freedom to do business.
The Uber executives will be judged on charges including carrying out deceitful commercial practices and being complicit in illegal operation of a taxi service by providing drivers with means to do so and encouraging them to, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said in a statement.
Charges also include keeping and using personal data without authorization by France’s data privacy watchdog.
Uber said in a statement later on Tuesday that it wanted to “continue constructive talks with the government” on transport regulations and that it hoped France’s Constitutional Council would give its view on the 2014 law by the end of September. It did not comment on the trial.
Uber has triggered protests by taxi drivers from London to New Delhi as it upends traditional business models that require professional drivers to pay often steep fees for licenses to operate cabs.
The various regulatory battles could affect the valuation of the unlisted company, currently above $40 billion based on its most recent fund raisings.
In France, the backlash intensified last week when taxi drivers blockaded major transport hubs in a sometimes violent protest against what they say is unfair competition.
The protests were among the fiercest in a series of strikes and demonstrations across Europe against San Francisco-based Uber, whose backers include Goldman Sachs and Google.
Reporting by Chine Labbe; Writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by Mark John and Keith Weir