Just weeks after settling a dispute with New York City's mayor over limiting new drivers, Uber is once again making headlines but this time in Asia, where the controversial ride-sharing app is facing fresh legal accusations.
Hong Kong police arrested five Uber drivers on Tuesday; one year after the firm began operations in the city. Chief inspector Bruce Hung Hin-kau told reporters that the arrested drivers were charged with not possessing hire-car permits and third party risk insurance, both vital for driving a private car for reward in the city. Computers and documents were also taken away from Uber offices. Two interns were taken into custody but have since been released.
Uber's North Asia spokesman Harold Li told CNBC that the company ensures all rides are covered by insurance. "We stand by our driver-partners 100 percent and welcome the opportunity to work closely with the authorities towards updated regulations that put the safety and interests of riders and drivers first," he said in an e-mailed statement.
Tuesday's events are the latest in a series of enquiries surrounding Uber's blurry legal status in the region.
Australia confirmed this week that 29 drivers were facing charges of operating an illegal taxi service. Meanwhile, five drivers were detained in Jakarta in June after local taxi organizations complained that Uber was operating without a taxi license. In May, Chinese officials raided the firm's Chengdu office on "suspicions of unlicensed operations," a month following a similar search of Uber's Guangzhou office.
Globally, the firm's legal status varies. It's currently banned in countries including South Korea, Spain, Germany, and Thailand. Last month, it won a rare victory when an Ontario court cleared the firm of improper licensing charges and said there was no evidence it operated as a taxi broker.