Paris: Uber was fined $900,000 by a French court on Thursday, half of which was suspended, over its controversial UberPOP ride-sharing service that was banned in the country after violent protests last year.
Uber suspended its low-cost UberPOP offering in France in July following a storm of opposition to the service from taxi drivers and the arrest of two of its French bosses.
UberPOP was subsequently banned in France, but the company still operates its full-price service using professional drivers.
In the court case that ended on Thursday, Uber was charged with "the illegal organisation of a system that puts clients in contact with providers of road transport free of charge".
The verdict accused Uber of "repeated and lasting violations" and said the company had "encouraged a large number of people to take part in an activity which led to them being convicted of criminal offences".
Uber France's chief executive, Thibaud Simphal, and the company's director general for Western Europe at the time the charges were brought, Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, were fined 30,000 euros and 20,000 euros respectively. Half of those sums were also suspended.
A spokesman for San Francisco-based Uber said the company would appeal "immediately".
The fine for Uber was however lower than the 1.0 million euros that prosecutors had asked for.
The court also chose not to grant a prosecution request for the executives involved to be banned from running a company for five years.
France was the first country after the United States to have UberPOP when it was launched in February 2014.
But Uber soon became a victim of its success in Europe, with taxi drivers and hotel owners up in arms at the inroads made by one of the main players in the so-called "sharing economy".
Jean-Paul Levy, a lawyer for the complainants, hailed a "landmark decision".
"It demolishes the edifice put in place by Uber to try to conceal the responsibility of a number of individuals," he said.
Uber was also accused of producing advertisements that portrayed the service as fully legal by claiming UberPOP was a normal taxi service rather than a ride-sharing service.
Uber has filed complaints with the European Union against France and other EU members, arguing that national policies that are hostile to its operations violate European law.
Published Date: Jun 09, 2016 22:41 PM | Updated Date: Jun 09, 2016 22:42 PM