It's the first day on the job for new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and it appears task number one on his list will be a federal investigation into allegations of foreign bribery by Uber staff.
According to a report from the (paywalled) Wall Street Journal, unnamed sources say that the US Department of Justice "has begun to review allegations that Uber may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bans the use of bribes to foreign officials to get or keep business."
It's not yet known if the DOJ investigation is focused on activities on one specific country or if the probe involves multiple locations around the globe. But "based on what it finds, the Justice Department may or may not decide to open a full-fledged FCPA investigation into Uber," the Journal reports.
"FCPA," in this case, refers to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. You can get the full overview of that act here, but the key language is probably this:
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1, et seq. ("FCPA"), was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business.
Specifically, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA prohibit the willful use of the mails or any means of instrumentality of interstate commerce corruptly in furtherance of any offer, payment, promise to pay, or authorization of the payment of money or anything of value to any person, while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given or promised, directly or indirectly, to a foreign official to influence the foreign official in his or her official capacity, induce the foreign official to do or omit to do an act in violation of his or her lawful duty, or to secure any improper advantage in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person.
An Uber spokesperson confirmed to the WSJ that the company is cooperating with the DOJ on the preliminary investigation. The DOJ was less transparent, saying “As a matter of policy, the department generally neither confirms nor denies the existence of an investigation."
This isn't the only federal investigation with which Uber is currently "cooperating." As previously reported, Uber's infamous "Greyball" system the company used to evade local authorities is the focus of a federal criminal investigation launched in May, Reuters reported at the time. In a March announcement, Uber said "we are expressly prohibiting [Greyball's] use to target action by local regulators going forward."
In an email sent to Uber employees by its Board of Directors Tuesday night, Khosrowshahi will make his first appearance to staff at a meeting this morning. The Board urges staff to assemble questions for Khosrowshahi, and to "join us in welcoming Dara on what promises to be an exciting ride!"