[JURIST] Uber [corporate website] confirmed on Tuesday that they are currently under investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] for bribing foreign officials. The DOJ is seeking to determine whether Uber operated in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [text, PDF] over the course of the company's rapid expansion into foreign countries. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits the bribing of foreign officials as well as having an intent to bribe said officials. It is not clear which countries were the subject of the alleged bribes or what type of bribes were offered by Uber.
Uber has faced a number of legal battles over its technology and organization after its recent rise to prominence. Since their inception, ride-sharing services like Uber have been among the most controversial business models [JURIST backgrounder] in recent history. In May a federal court ordered [JURIST report] the removal of an Uber engineer from the self-driving division of the company. The engineer in controversy may have stolen information from the self-driving company Waymo [corporate website] prior to his employment by Uber. Earlier in May the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued [JURIST report] a non-binding opinion finding that Uber is a transportation company subject to additional regulations and fines. Also in May the (DOJ) announced it had launched [JURIST report] a criminal investigation into Uber for the use of a software tool that helped drivers evade local transport regulators. The US Federal Trade Commission announced [JURIST report] in January that Uber agreed to pay $20 million to settle a claim that the ride-hailing company had engaged in misleading tactics to recruit new drivers.