The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) opened a preliminary bribery investigation into Uber and the firm is cooperating with its officials on the matter, the San Francisco, California-based tech giant said on Tuesday in a statement issued to the media. The confirmation came shortly before the company officially announced its new Chief Executive Officer, revealing that Dara Khosrowshahi is leaving travel service provider Expedia to replace Uber’s ousted CEO Travis Kalanick. The DOJ is now said to be investigating a number of Uber managers and their possible violations of U.S. anti-bribery regulations, specifically those pertaining to the bribery of foreign government officials under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. No other details regarding the federal probe into Uber have yet been given and it’s currently unclear which country or countries is the investigation encompassing.
The latest turn of events comes amid the largest crisis in the history of the most valuable startup in the world which investors still value at around $68 billion; Uber just spent more than two months without a CEO and is in the middle of a high-profile legal battle with Alphabet’s self-driving subsidiary Waymo which claims that a former employee of both companies stole some autonomous driving trade secrets from the Mountain View, California-based tech giant and later used them in Uber’s own driverless solutions, a notion that Uber denies and has previously labeled as Alphabet’s attempt to stifle a rising competitor.
The ordeal, coupled with allegations of a predatory corporate culture at Uber, led Mr. Kalanick to resign his CEO position in late June following significant pressure from several investors, one of which recently personally sued him over supposed fraud in an attempt to completely oust him from the ride-hailing service provider which he co-founded in 2009. Uber’s former CEO described the lawsuit as a personal attack and the start of a smearing campaign he says Benchmark Capital is running against him. Mr. Kalanick is currently pushing for the case to be moved to arbitration and away from the public spotlight, though the dispute already prompted a conflict among the company’s investors fighting for control of the struggling tech giant.