UBER UNDER THREAT: A closed sign is seen at the front door of Uber's office in Hong Kong. Police searched Uber's office in the Asian financial centre on August 11 in the latest legal headache e-hailing company. Image: AP/ Vincent Yu
HONG KONG, China - Police have raided the Hong Kong offices of taxi-hailing service Uber on Tuesday (August 11 2015) and arrested five drivers for the "illegal use of vehicles for hire".
Hong Kong police said undercover police officers had used the e-hailing app to hail five cars and arrested the drivers after being driven to their destinations.
He said the drivers lacked the required hire car permits or third party insurance.
THREE DRIVERS IN CUSTODY
The police officers' fares had been settled using a credit card, the police said.
Harold Li, North Asia's Uber spokesman said: "Uber stood by its "driver-partners 100%" and welcomed the chance to work with authorities "towards updated regulations that put the safety and interests of riders and drivers first.
"Uber ensures that all rides are covered by insurance, and all drivers on the platform undergo an extensive background check."
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Police also searched two offices in Hong Kong, including at least one belonging to Uber, a police spokeswoman said. Police were shown on Hong Kong television taking away documents, computers and iPads.
At least three Uber staff were taken away by police, according to Hong Kong's Cable Television.
Managing editor of the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post tweeted his thoughts:
The move by police against Uber comes after Hong Kong taxi drivers mounted protests against the online service for hurting their livelihoods. Uber has faced similar protests across the world, including in China where the US-headquartered firm is expanding rapidly.
Uber's Li said: "Hongkongers have made it clear that they want more, better transportation options in our city, and Uber is deeply committed to making sure they have unrestricted access to safe, reliable, quality options."
UBER VALUED AT $51-BILLION
In May 2015, Chinese authorities raided the offices of Uber on suspicion of an "unlicensed operation".
Uber, which has been valued at more than $51-billion, is a comparative latecomer in China, where the number of smartphone taxi-hailing app users is forecast to triple to 45-million by 2015 from 2013.
Chinese firms Kuaidi Dache and Didi Dache, backed by tech giants such as technology giants Alibaba and TenCent, have 90% of the market sewn up.