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March 3, 2024
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Uber Files in Romania: Lobby or Influence-Peddling?

Secret communications between Uber employees expose illegal strategies for expanding into other markets, including Romania.

The British publication The Guardian published the massive leak of information from the archives of the Uber corporation, then co-sponsored by media partners from 29 nations and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

According to Rise Project, Uber turned to outdated methods to address powerful politicians in Romania. In order to operate, the firm has spent a large quantity of money on hiring consultants to persuade politicians to change legislation.

The ‘Uber operation’ involved more than 100 politicians and decision-makers from 17 different countries, Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden, as well as members of the European Parliament and European Commission representatives.

In Romania, the documents leaked demonstrate the coordination that took place between Uber executives in Bucharest, the outside consultants and the local officials.

Influence peddling or Lobby?

Analyzing the results of this investigation, the Uber files case falls within the influence-peddling. Why? Because, if the allegations are true, the Uber employees resorted to illegal methods for changing the legislation.

First of all, in Romania, the law regulating lobbying in Romania is only drafted but never adopted. In Romania, professional lobbying isn’t regulated yet, but the influencing activity is already conducted by trade associations, corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society, syndicates, employer unions, think tanks, lawyers, and other individuals and groups.

However, compared to the lobby, the influence-peddling is a corruption offence provided by Romanian law. It consists in receiving or claiming money or other benefits or accepting promises, or gifts, directly or indirectly, committed by a person who has influence or is believed to have influence over an official or another employee, in order to determine him to do or not to do any act that falls within his duties. Which, by law, is what Uber did.

Even though it is known that Romania is a corrupt country, such cases should shake the Romanian society. It can be seen how easily Romanian politicians can be influenced, especially those in leadership positions. This is how the laws can be changed from one day to the next, very easily masked by political leaders and their ‘influencers’

About Uber’s actions in Romania

Since 2015, when Uber began conducting business in Romania, the company has been successful in changing the law to allow all urban-type passenger transport activities while still prohibiting the transportation of passengers for a fee without a taxi license.

Rise Project found that Peter Imre, an influential person in the Romanian society, who passed away a few days ago, was the person who could guarantee the relationship between Uber and the political region. Peter Imre served as the CEO of Adevarul Holding and was a well-connected local consultant in Romanian politics.

According to the reveals, Uber was successful in persuading many political figures in high positions at that time. Romanian politicians like the Minister of Transport (Ioan Rus), the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Transport (Iulian Tache), the Vice President of the Transport Committee in Parliament (Mircea Toader), the Senate President (Calin Popescu-Tariceanu), the President of the Competition Council (Bogdan Chiritoiu), the Minister for the Information Society (Sorin Grindeanu – now the Minister of Transport) and many others.

Of course, no one in Romania admits that they had a discussion with an Uber official, but time will tell if the journalistic investigation was true or not.

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