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uber travis kalanickUber cofounder and former
CEO Travis Kalanick
Chris
Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The US Department of Justice is looking into whether Uber
violated laws involving the bribery of foreign officials,
the company confirmed to Business Insider on Tuesday.

The DOJ is examining allegations that Uber, the privately-held
ride-hailing giant, may have violated the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
. The law makes it illegal for
individuals and organizations to pay foreign government officials
in order to obtain or retain business.

It’s not clear exactly what incidents or countries the DOJ is
looking at, or when the alleged violations may have
occurred. 

The investigation marks yet another troublesome
complication for Uber, the world’s most valuable privately-held
tech startup, following
months of controversies
and internal turmoil. On Sunday,
Uber’s board of directors, divided over cofounder Travis
Kalanick’s continued role in the company, voted
to name Expedia CEO
Dara Khosrowshahi
 as Kalanick’s
replacement as CEO. Kalanick
resigned that position
in June, but remains a director of the
company.

Uber is cooperating with the investigation, which is in its
preliminary stages, a company representative told Business
Insider.

A DOJ representative declined to comment on the inquiry, noting
in an email to Business Insider that the agency “generally
neither confirms nor denies the existence of an investigation.”

Based on what the DOJ’s examination finds, officials will decide
whether to open a full-fledged investigation, according to the
Wall Street Journal,
which first reported on the inquiry
.

Uber operates its eight-year-old ride hailing service across the
world, with operations in 632 cities. The company has
often encountered resistance and friction from local
regulators as it has expanded its footprint and upended incumbent
taxi and limousine businesses.

Under Kalanick, Uber also earned a reputation for taking an
aggressive posture in its relations with regulators, epitomized
by the revelation that it created a secret tool known
as “Greyball”
to allow its drivers to avoid authorities in
cities where the service was banned or under scrutiny.

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