RIDE-hailing heavyweight Uber may be involved in a probe related to car purchases made by its car rental company Lion City Rental (LCR).
There has been talk in the parallel import (PI) industry that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) has called up former and/or current Uber staff over LCR’s car purchases.
Uber’s majority-owned LCR has a fleet of about 15,000 private-hire cars, with models such as Honda Vezel, Honda Vezel Hybrid, Mazda3, Toyota Prius and Mitsubishi Attrage, among others.
While the last three models were purchased from authorised distributors, the first two are not available from the Honda agent here and available only as parallel imports.
It is understood that LCR acquires its parallel imports from four main PI companies.
One of these parallel importers, Sunrita, was recently in the news for being embroiled in a legal tussle with Uber over the late delivery of cars.
When asked about this, one parallel importer said it was not new.
He added: “If you are in the PI market, you would have heard about it. For us, there’s nothing to be surprised about; any trade will also have this.”
Another parallel importer, who had also heard about this, gave more details.
He claimed the sale of cars was done indirectly.
“You had to go through three middlemen,” he said.
When asked whether there was a probe, a CPIB spokesman replied: “Due to the nature of our work, we will not confirm or deny whether any individual or entity is being investigated for corrupt practices or any criminal activities.”
When contacted, an Uber spokesman said: “We do not comment on rumours or market speculation.”
The company is currently facing a US federal probe. The investigation is focused on suspicious activity in at least five Asian countries: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.
It was reported last month that Uber is reviewing its Asia operations.
It has notified US officials about payments made by staff in Indonesia, after an employee is said to have made payments to continue operating in an area not zoned for businesses.