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Uber CEO among 30 charged with operating illegal taxi ring in South Korea

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Thirty people associated with Uber's operation in South Korea have been charged on suspicion of operating illegal taxi services in the country, Seoul police said this week. Among their number are Uber Korea's brand manager, the heads of six different car rental companies, and a number of drivers. Yonhap News says the people are suspected of connecting passengers with nearby drivers through the UberTaxi app without a license.

Additionally, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was booked on suspicion of conducting illegal business. The charge is the second leveled against Kalanick — the Uber boss was indicted without physical detention in December last year for operating an illegal taxi service in the country. Kalanick has so far refused to enter Korea to stand trial, but a police official told Yonhap News that he was to be sent an official summons soon for further investigation into the case. "If Kalanick continues to disobey the summons," the official said, "we plan to seek an arrest warrant against him."

Uber suspended its services in South Korea earlier this month

ZDNet says that authorities also took 432 items as evidence, including handsets that Uber Korea distributed to its drivers. An Uber South Korea spokesperson said that the firm has been cooperating with the police fully, but denied any wrongdoing. The Verge has contacted Uber South Korea for further comment.

Police say that because Uber doesn't screen its drivers or insure its cabs, the service poses a risk for its users. Seoul city officials announced plans to ban the service in July last year, and earlier this month, the company took the step of suspending its Uber X ride-sharing platform in the country. Uber vowed to come back, but the road ahead is tough. Seoul District Police said that the ride-sharing service was banned because it disturbed the entrenched cab industry and because without proper laws in place, the company could get away without paying tax — both obstacles that will be tricky for Kalanick's company to shift.