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French media outlets today reported that two senior Uber executives have been taken into police custody in Paris as part of a probe into the company's UberPOP service. The pair are believed to be Uber Europe CEO Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty and Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal. French business news channel BFMTV reports that the executives are suspected of "inciting undeclared work."
The news comes after several nationwide anti-Uber protests by French taxi drivers turned violent last week. Taxi unions argue that because Uber drivers don't have to pay the same steep licensing fees as French cabbies, the company has an unfair competitive advantage over them.
Even though UberPOP was effectively banned in France in January, the service has been allowed to continue after a Paris appeals court declined to rule on its legality in March. A constitutional court is expected to issue a final decision on UberPOP's legal status in September.
While it's claimed today's arrests are not directly linked to last week's protests, French officials have toughened their stance against Uber following the strikes. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced earlier today that 200 extra police specifically charged with cracking down on illegal taxi activities would be deployed in Paris.
Uber had this to say regarding the arrests:
"Two representatives of Uber today went voluntarily to a police hearing that is part of a on-going legal proceeding. Uber is always willing to work with authorities to overcome possible misunderstandings."