U.S. looking into whether Uber bribed foreign officials

SAN FRANCISCO, USA – The US Justice Department is investigating whether Uber broke American laws against bribing foreign officials to promote business interests, the company confirmed Tuesday, August 29, US time.

San Francisco-based Uber said it was cooperating with an investigation into possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, but did not disclose details. 

The act bars paying officials of foreign governments to get or keep business. (READ: Uber pays P190-M fine but still suspended)

News of the US probe comes as Uber hires Expedia chief Dara Khosrowshahi to steady the wheel at the smartphone-summoned ride service, which has skidded from one controversy to another.

"As you probably know by now, Dara Khosrowshahi has been asked to lead Uber," read a copy of a memo from Expedia board chairman Barry Diller to Expedia employees included in an SEC filing.

Uber, in a message to employees, said, "We're really fortunate to gain a leader with Dara's experience, talent and vision."

Uber and Expedia did not respond to AFP requests for comment regarding the CEO choice.

Whoever takes charge at Uber will face challenges including conflicts with regulators and taxi operators, a cut-throat company culture and board members feuding with investors over Kalanick.

The US government earlier this year was reported to have launched an investigation into Uber for the use of secret software that enabled the company to operate in areas where it was banned or restricted. (READ: Secret Uber software steers drivers from stings)

A software program, called Greyball, first revealed by The New York Times in March, enabled drivers to avoid detection from the transportation authorities by identifying regulators posing as Uber customers in order to deny them rides. (READ: TIMELINE: Uber's woes leading up to Travis Kalanick's resignation)

Dents to Uber's image include a visit by executives to a South Korean escort-karaoke bar, an attempt to dig up dirt on journalists covering the company and the mishandling of medical records from a woman raped in India after hailing an Uber ride. – Rappler.com