HONG KONG Five Hong Kong Uber drivers were found guilty of illegally using their vehicles for commercial purposes by a local court on Friday, dealing a potential blow to Uber Technologies Inc’s operations in the Asian financial hub.
The verdict comes less than a month after the multi-billion dollar ride-hailing service pulled out of Taiwan.
Uber, headquartered in San Francisco, has been facing similar legal scrutiny in markets across Asia.
The judge, So Wai-tak, said the drivers’ vehicles had been used for commercial purposes and that their insurance excluded commercial use leaving passengers unprotected.
The pressure against Uber in the China-ruled former British colony stems in part from local taxi drivers mounting protests against the online service for hurting their livelihoods. Uber has faced similar protests across the world.
The financial hub of Hong Kong, while dubbed one of the world’s freest economies, has a tightly regulated taxi sector that is known for its relatively low fares compared with other global cities like London and New York.
Uber hasn’t officially released figures on the size of its business in Hong Kong, but it is believed more than one million rides have so far been given with tens of thousands of registered drivers.
(Reporting by Venus Wu and Sijia Jiang; Editing by James Pomfret and Randy Fabi)