EcoRéseau Business – “Uber Files”: Emmanuel Macron Selected by the ICIJ Inquiry

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Earthquake at the VTC giant: On July 10, several newspapers published their first articles from the “Uber Files”. The investigations conducted by the journalists expose the implication of Emmanuel Macron.

Uber, synonym for illegality? One thing is certain: the to start Californian dares anything! It pushes through to settle abroad, ignores the regulations in force, joins forces with a Russian bank that is then sanctioned, satisfies politicians, manipulates drivers. The Uber scheme appears to be made up of violence. The research conducted by The worlde is based on the abuses that led to the expansion of the group between 2013 and 2017. The investigation was started by a leak of 124,000 internal company documents: emails, text exchanges, PowerPoints… These exhibits provide a broad overview of the methods used by Travis Kalanick, former CEO of the multinational. These documents were sent by the British daily newspaper the guard before being issued toICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists), and its partners.

In particular, the documents show that the Uber group has compiled a list of more than 1,850 “stakeholders”. Civil servants, think tanks, politicians… In all corners of the world, the VTC giant is pulling its strings. Among these personalities: former associates of Barack Obama, President Emmanuel Macron (then Minister of Economy), then Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Toomas Hendrik, former President of Estonia. Uber also allegedly tried to seduce oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin…

In 2014, when the company was only five years old, it dominated the ride-hailing market in the United States thanks to investors like Jeff Bezos and Goldman Sachs. His goal ? Conquer the world ! His method? The passage in effect. the young one to start does what it wants and refuses to comply with regulations. A theory developed by Uber lobbyist Mark MacGann. “Basically, Uber steps in, then there’s a regulatory and legal ‘shit storm,'” he once told young Polish consultant Bartek Kwiatkowski. The company defends its strategy as a “pyramid of shit”, which consists of driver lawsuits, regulatory investigations, “administrative proceedings” and “lawsuits”. But this policy of “whatever it takes” comes at a price: 90 million euros invested in lobbying for the year 2016!

Uber and lobbyists, a real one love story

Lobbyists form a significant shield around Uber and participate in its omnipotence. According to documents submitted by the guard, they could have benefited from company stakes and commissions based on their results. A big fan of favors, Uber has offered companies discounts on Uber rides, lunches at luxury restaurants and even free support for their campaigns… But the tech giant doesn’t stop there, it also has ex-officials like Neelie Kroes, former vice president. President of the European Commission and relatives of Barack Obama, including David Plouffe, responsible for the former president’s campaign. We would have called on him to “soften the image of Uber”. Plouffe resigned in 2017 but was fined $90,000 by a Chicago court for unfairly pressuring the then mayor.


Suspected deal between Emmanuel Macron and the VTC giant

As part of his research, The world reports exchanges between the current president and Travis Kalanick, ex-CEO of the group.

Uber was founded in France in 2011. A stalemate begins: the application of laws in France is strict and French taxis strongly oppose the establishment of the VTC company on its territory. Anti-Uber demonstrations are spreading across the country, so much so that in 2014 the National Assembly passes the Thévenoud law that favors taxis over VTCs. But the French authorities quickly investigate the company for violating tax laws and operating an unlicensed taxi service. The DGCCRF is also trying to determine whether UberPop, the transportation service that allows you to become a driver without a driver’s license, is legal.

But Emmanuel Macron, then economy minister, joined forces with Uber. He attends a meeting with Travis Kalanick. A meeting that Mark MacGann describes as “spectacular”, confirming that Emmanuel Macron “welcomed Uber in a remarkably warm, friendly and constructive atmosphere”. He says Emmanuel Macron has asked “regulators not to be too conservative”. In a July 2015 exchange, the Uber CEO exchanges with Emmanuel Macron, the latter confirming to him that Bernard Cazeneuve, then Minister of the Interior, was a agreement which consisted of incorporating into law provisions favorable to Uber, based on amendments provided by Uber. To this day, Cazeneuve claims to have never heard of such an agreement. In the “Uber files” appear a total of 17 SMS exchanges of the same type. The Élysée told AFP that Emmanuel Macron, as Minister of Economy, “had naturally led to exchanges with many companies involved in the profound change in services that have occurred in the said years, which should be facilitated by certain to unravel administrative or legal interlocks”.

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