Uber is among a number of taxi apps which are being deployed in cities in the United States and worldwide. (Paul J Richards, AFP)
Johannesburg - The CEO of internet ride-sharing service Uber, Travis Kalanick, faces a possible two year jail sentence in South Korea amid charges of operating an illegal taxi service in the country.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said on Wednesday that it has prosecuted Kalanick and the head of local rental-car service operator MK Korea both without physical detention.
A report from the Yonhap news agency said that the two have been charged with violating a local passenger transport services law, which states that rental-car service operators are banned from conducting passenger-transport business using their cars in South Korea.
Violators face up to two years in jail, according to the report. At the time of writing, Uber has not responded to the indictment.
The charge against Kalanick, though, comes amid a crackdown on Uber in South Korea after the service launched in the Asian nation in 2013.
Yonhap reports that South Korean authorities have stepped up their investigation into the taxi service in response to anger from local taxi drivers who claim they have been unfairly affected by the app.
Last week, the city council of Seoul also started offering a financial reward of up to 1 million won ($910.5) for those who report Uber's illegal activities.
However, Uber claimed the reward is in breach of a Korea-US Free Trade Agreement.
“We would like to call upon all parties to stop the unnecessary confrontation and approach this issue in a mature manner with a view to providing the kind of service that the citizens of Seoul deserve,” Allen Penn, Head Of Asia Operations for Uber, said in a statement last week.
Uber has spread to 250 cities in 50 countries. The company has also been valued at $40bn.
But the ride-sharing service has faced various regulatory pressures in several countries and a string of bad news reports in recent months.
Uber is facing regulatory pressures in Thailand and Taiwan as old taxi business models are being disrupted by the service.
Two Uber drivers in US city Boston and New Delhi in India have also faced rape allegations.