French police raided the Paris offices of the Uber taxi app company on Tuesday as part of an investigation into its controversial ride-sharing service, the company told AFP.
The headquarters of the French branch of the US-based firm was targeted at the request of the Paris prosecutor’s office.
The enquiry centres on the UberPop smartphone application, which puts non-professional drivers with their own cars in touch with passengers via their mobile phones or a website, for rides at budget rates.
The company called the raid an “attempt at intimidation,” adding that dozens of non-professional UberPop users had been fined since the start of the year.
Uber, which operates in about 250 cities in 50 countries, has become an object of scorn from traditional taxi companies fighting for survival against the rise of the Silicon Valley challenger, founded in 2009.
“We see this raid as a disproportionate action carried out on a very fragile legal basis,” Uber France boss Thibaud Simphal told the website of L’Obs magazine.
Earlier this month hundreds of taxi drivers from Belgium and France brought central Brussels to a virtual standstill with their vehicles in a protest against the web-based Uber.
Around 100 French taxi drivers travelled to Brussels to take part in the protest.
UberPop is technically illegal in France, but the company has appealed a 100,000-euro ($113,000) fine it received last year.
Uber’s American founder Travis Kalanick has said the system will create 50,000 new jobs in Europe this year, and help take 400,000 cars off the road by encouraging drivers to use taxis instead of their own vehicle.