Thousands of leaked files have exposed how Uber defrauded top politicians and how far it went to evade justice.
They detail the extensive support Uber has received from leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and ex-EU commissioner Neeli Kroes.
They also show how the former boss of the taxi firm personally ordered the use of a “kill switch” to prevent raiding police from accessing the computer.
Uber says its “past behavior was not in line with current values” and it is a “different company” today.
The Uber files are a cluster of more than 124,000 records, including 83,000 emails and 1,000 other files related to conversations, spanning from 2013 to 2017.
They were leaked to the Guardian, and shared with several media organizations including the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and BBC Panorama. They reveal, for the first time, how a $90m-a-year lobbying and public relations effort recruited friendly politicians to help in their campaign to disrupt Europe’s taxi industry.
While French taxi drivers took to the streets in sometimes violent protests against Uber, Mr Macron – now chairman – was on first-name terms with Uber’s controversial boss Travis Kalanick, asking him to break the laws in favor of the firm. will improve.
Uber’s ruthless business practices were widely known, but for the first time Files gives a unique inside view of the lengths it took to achieve its goals.
They show how one of Brussels’ top officials, ex-EU digital commissioner Nellie Krauss, was in talks to join Uber before her term ended – and then a potential breach of EU ethics rules. I lobbied in secret for the firm.
At the time, Uber wasn’t just one of the fastest growing companies in the world—it was also home to one of the most controversial, court cases, sexual harassment allegations, and data breach scandals.
Eventually shareholders had had enough, and Travis Kalanick was ousted in 2017.
Uber says his replacement, Dara Khosrowshahi, “was tasked with transforming every aspect of Uber’s operations” and has “established the rigorous controls and compliance needed to operate as a public company”.
‘Fantastic’ Macaron Help
Paris was the scene of Uber’s first European launch, and it faced stiff resistance from the taxi industry, culminating in violent protests on the streets.
In August 2014, an aspiring former banker named Emmanuel Macron was just appointed Minister of the Economy. He saw Uber as a source of growth and badly needed new jobs, and was keen to help.
That October, he held a meeting with Kalanick and other officials and lobbyists, marking the beginning of a long – but less publicized – tenure as champion of the controversial firm’s interests within the government.
Uber lobbyist Mark McGann described the meeting as “fantastic. Like I’ve never seen before,” the files show. “We’ll dance soon,” he said.
“Emmanuel” and “Travis” were soon on first name terms, and met at least four times, the files show – in Paris, and at the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland. Previously only the Davos meeting has been reported.
At one point Uber wrote to Mr Macron, saying it was “extremely grateful”. “The openness and welcome we find in government-industry relations is unusual.”
French taxi drivers were particularly outraged in 2014 by the launch of UberPop – a service that allowed unlicensed drivers to offer rides at very low prices.
Courts and parliament banned it, but Uber kept the service running because it challenged the law.
Mr Macron didn’t think there was a future for UberPop, but he agreed to work with the company to rewrite the laws governing other services in France.
“Uber will provide a framework for a regulatory framework for ridesharing. We will connect our respective teams to begin working on a viable proposal that could become a formal framework in France,” reads an email from Travis Kalanick to Mr. Macron. Is.
On 25 June 2015, the protests turned violent, and a week later Mr Macron texted Kalanick with an explicit offer of help.
“[I] will gather everyone next week to prepare reform and correct the law.”
On the same day, Uber announced the suspension of UberPop in France.
Months later Mr Macron signed a decree relaxing requirements to license Uber drivers.
The extent of France’s now-president’s relationship with the controversial global firm operating in violation of French law has yet to be revealed.
A spokesman for Mr Macron said in an email: “His actions naturally led him to meet and interact with a number of companies that had come to the fore during the years in the services sector that had to unlock administrative and regulatory hurdles.” The facility had to be provided by doing.”
Regulator to lobbyist
The files also reveal how Uber’s relationship with one of Europe’s top executives, the European Commission’s Vice President Neeli Krauss, began much earlier and went deeper than before, allowing him to control the commissioners’ conduct. was put in clear contravention of the
She revealed that she was in talks to join Uber’s advisory board before leaving her last European position in November 2014.
EU rules state that commissioners must honor a “cooling-off” period, then 18 months, during which new jobs require commission approval.
As a commissioner, Ms. Cross oversaw digital and competition policy, and there was a high-profile crisis of big tech, leading Microsoft and Intel to impose heavy fines.
But of the companies she could work for after leaving, Uber was a particularly controversial choice.
In her home country, the Netherlands, the UberPop ridesharing service also brought legal and political trouble.
Uber drivers were arrested in October 2014, and in December a judge in The Hague banned UberPop, with fines of up to 100,000 euros. In March 2015, the Amsterdam office of Uber was raided by Dutch police.
The email said Ms Croce called on ministers and other members of the government to persuade them to back down during the raid. During another raid a week later, Ms Kroos again contacted a Dutch minister, the Uber Files show, and, in the words of an email, “harassed” the head of the Dutch civil service.
An internal email advised employees not to discuss their informal relationship externally: “Their reputation and our ability to negotiate solutions in the Netherlands and elsewhere will be affected by any casual joke inside or outside the office.” – BBC