Almost 30 people associated with Uber, including its CEO Travis Kalanick, have been charged in South Korea on suspicion of operating illegal taxi services in the country.
The Yonhap News Agency reports that Uber Korea's brand manager, heads of car rental companies and a number of drivers are "suspected of connecting passengers with nearby drivers through the UberTaxi app without a licence". Meanwhile, Kalanick "was booked on suspicion of conducting illegal business".
South Korean police have pointed to concerns over safety and security as motivation for the charges. They suggest that Uber's lack of driver screening and car insurance leaves passengers at risk, while mobile phone numbers and credit card numbers could also be leaked. In the process, police also seized 432 items to be used as evidence, including handsets used by Uber drivers.
In fact it's the second time that Kalanick has been charged in South Korea: he was also as indicted without physical detention late last year "on charges of establishing and running Uber Korea", too. This time, things might get more serious. "If Kalanick continues to disobey the summons, we plan to seek an arrest warrant against him," a police official told Yonhap News Agency.
The news comes on the back of a string of bad news for the taxi service, which is being told to halt operations in several states in the US and recently lost personal data of 50,000 of its users. How long can a company keep a $40 billion valuation in the face of such strife? [Yonhap New Agency via ZDNET via Verge]