Hong Kong police arrest 21 Uber drivers

Hong Kong police arrest 21 Uber drivers
Photo taken on March 10, 2017 shows Uber signage and an employee standing in the entrance of the ride-hailing giant's office in Hong Kong. Hong Kong police on May 23, 2017 arrested 21 Uber drivers for carrying passengers without a proper permit following an undercover operation in the latest setback for the ride-hailing giant

HONG KONG - Hong Kong police on Tuesday arrested 21 Uber drivers for illegal car-hiring as part of an ongoing clamp down against Uber Technologies Inc's operations in the Asian financial city.

The arrests marked the latest upset for the San Francisco-based technology company, which in March said it would help five convicted Uber drivers to appeal their court case.

Police said they began an undercover operation in May and on Tuesday arrested 20 men and one woman between the ages 21 to 59 for illegally driving a car for hire and driving without third party risks insurance.

"I would like to stress that our law enforcement action is ongoing and we do not rule out further arrests," said Lau Tat-fai, Chief Inspector of Police Enforcement and Control Decision at the Kowloon West district.

"We would like to say to the operator of the mobile phone application, as a responsible organisation, you need to ensure cars for hire are equipped with a permit as required by Hong Kong laws. This is a basic responsibility to passengers and (shows) respect for Hong Kong laws," Lau said.

He said those who assist or instigate drivers might also have to bear legal responsibility.

Uber was not immediately available for comment.

A local court in March had found five Uber drivers guilty and fined them HK$10,000 (S$1,780) each.

It also revoked their driving licenses for a year, but that punishment was suspended upon the drivers' appeal.

Uber began a fierce publicity campaign following the verdict, splashing ads on newspaper frontpages and giving out plane tickets and Manchester United football jerseys to a few random passengers.

The embattled technology company pulled out of Taiwan earlier this year over mounting fines from regulators, but said last month it would resume services.

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