A court in Milan has placed Uber’s Italian division, Uber Italia, into special administration amidst an investigation of alleged exploitation of Uber Eats food delivery riders, the court said.
Uber Italia said the Uber Eats platform had been offered to restaurants and couriers in the country in full respect of the law, with the company condemning any form of illegal intermediation.
“We participate actively in the debate around regulation which we believe will give the food delivery sector the necessary legal security to prosper in Italy,” the company said in a statement.
The Preventative Measures Section of the Tribunal of Milan said Uber was accused of using labour recruitment companies which employed as delivery riders migrants arriving into Italy from war-torn countries, asylum seekers and people living in temporary reception centres.
The migrants were allegedly paid as little as 3 euros per delivery, according to court documents cited in local reports.
The investigation is being conducted by the economic unit of the Guardia di Finanza law enforcement agency, a branch of the Ministry of Economy and Finance that deals with issues such as financial crime and smuggling, and is reportedly led by prosecutors Alessandra Dolci and Paolo Storari.
In addition to Uber Italia, one of the recruitment companies and four individuals are also under investigation, reports said.
Uber Italia may continue to operate under the special administration status.
The move comes as Uber’s main ride-hailing business struggles under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with trips down 80 percent in April, although the firm said last month demand was slowly recovering.
Uber Eats has been a rare bright spot in the company’s balance sheet, growing 50 percent year-on-year in the first quarter due to demand generated by lockdowns, with Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi calling it the company’s next “enormous growth opportunity”.
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