Egypt’s president approves law for ride-hailing apps

In this Feb. 10, 2015 file photo, an Uber employee shows the mobile application at the official launch of the car-hailing service, in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
Updated 24 June 2018
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Egypt’s president approves law for ride-hailing apps

  • El-Sisi approved a law governing popular ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem
  • The law establishes the basis for operating licenses and fees

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi approved a law governing popular ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem after the companies appealed a court ruling that revoked their licenses, the country’s official gazette reported Sunday.
The law establishes the basis for operating licenses and fees, and requires licensed companies to store user data for 180 days and make it available to Egyptian security authorities upon request.
There was no immediate comment from Uber and Careem. Both companies, however, had welcomed the draft law when parliament approved it in May.
Both companies provide smartphone apps that connect passengers with drivers who work as independent contractors. In March, an Egyptian court deemed it illegal to use private vehicles for taxi services and ordered Uber and Careem’s apps to be blocked. But another court overruled that ruling in April, and both companies have since continued operating. The Supreme Administrative Court on Saturday adjourned the appeal to August 25.
Data privacy is a major concern for Uber in its dealings with the Egyptian government. The strict new European General Data Protection Regulation law comes into effect on May 25 and is expected to impact its operations worldwide.
Uber was founded in 2010 in San Francisco, and operates in more than 600 cities across the world. Careem was founded in 2012 in Dubai, and operates in 90 cities in the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey, and Pakistan.
The applications took off in Cairo, a city of 20 million people with near-constant traffic and shrinking parking space. The services have recently started offering rides on scooters and tuk-tuks, three-wheeled motorized vehicles that can sometimes squeeze through the gridlock.
The apps are especially popular among women, who face rampant sexual harassment in Egypt, including from some taxi drivers. Cairo’s taxi drivers are also notorious for tampering with their meters or pretending they’re broken to charge higher rates.
In 2016, taxi drivers protested the ride-hailing apps, complaining that their drivers have an unfair advantage because they don’tt have to pay the same taxes or fees, or follow the same licensing procedures.


Danske Bank money laundering ‘giga scandal’ spreads to Britain

Updated 10 min 40 sec ago
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Danske Bank money laundering ‘giga scandal’ spreads to Britain

  • By 2013, the number of UK-registered customers in the branch’s non-resident portfolio had topped 1,000
  • Danske Bank Chairman Ole Andersen said that the lender had made an assessment of whether it violated any US laws
LONDON/COPENHAGEN: Danske Bank’s money laundering scandal spread on Friday as Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said it is investigating the use of UK-registered companies.
“This is a giga scandal,” European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, joining a growing chorus of calls for a clampdown on the billions of euros which are alleged to have been “washed” through European banks.
An NCA spokeswoman said the British agency was working with partners across government to restrict the ability of criminals to use UK-registered companies in money laundering.
British and Russian entities dominate a list of accounts used to make €200 billion ($236 billion) in payments through Danske Bank’s branch in Estonia between 2007 and 2015, many of which the bank said this week are suspicious.
By 2013, the number of UK-registered customers in the branch’s non-resident portfolio had topped 1,000, Danske Bank’s investigation revealed, ahead of clients from Russia, the British Virgin Islands and Finland.
As the scope of the alleged money laundering through Danske Bank has widened, investor concerns over the potential penalties it could face have increased, with particular focus on what action if any US authorities might take against the bank.
So far, the US has not said whether it is investigating, although Danske Bank Chairman Ole Andersen said that the lender had made an assessment of whether it violated any US laws. He has declined to share the bank’s conclusion of this.
“We need to do more to prevent money laundering from happening,” Vestager told reporters in Copenhagen following the resignation on Wednesday of Danske Bank CEO Thomas Borgen after an investigation commissioned by the bank exposed past control and compliance failings.
Borgen, 54, was in charge of Danske Bank’s international operations including Estonia between 2009 and 2012.
He said on Wednesday that he had been “personally cleared from a legal point of view” while Danske said its board had not breached their legal obligations.
The European Commission last week recommended banking supervision changes, including bolstering national authorities, but stopped short of setting up a new financial crime agency called for by the European Central Bank.
In a sign of the growing pressure on Danske Bank, which already faces criminal inquiries in Denmark and Estonia, the chief executive of CARE Danmark said on Twitter that the Danish charity had decided to end its relationship with the lender.
International aid charity Oxfam also called on Danish municipalities to cut ties with the bank, saying it has not been able to re-establish the trust of Danish citizens.
The mayor of Aalborg, Denmark’s third largest municipality, said he would discuss its partnership with Danske Bank at the next municipality committee meeting, but noted that there were only two banks in Denmark would be able to handle a municipality its size.
“Danske Bank has been involved in money laundering which is deeply reprehensible and outrageous but Nordea has been involved in tax havens, so the entire bank sector needs to clean up for us to have a trusting collaboration with the banks,” Thomas Kastrup-Larsen said.
Danske Bank’s tiny Estonian branch accounted for as much as 10 percent of group profit during the period when suspected money laundering was conducted via its operations there.