Malaysia defends ride-hailing laws after media report U.S. probe into Uber dealings

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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia on Friday said it passed laws regulating ride-hailing services after extensive stakeholder consultation and legal processes, after media reported U.S. authorities were investigating ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] for possible breach of bribery laws in Malaysia.

“There have not been any quid pro quo arrangements that affected decision-making in relation to the regulation of the e-hailing business here,” said Nancy Shukri, minister in the prime minister’s department, in a statement.

Uber, the subject of a U.S. federal probe into whether it broke bribery laws, is reviewing its Asia operations and has notified U.S. government officials about questionable payments made by staff in Indonesia, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The review comes after Uber said in August it was cooperating with a preliminary investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) into whether its managers violated U.S. laws against bribery of foreign officials.

Bloomberg reported that the DOJ is focusing on activity in Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia and South Korea. Uber’s law firm is also reviewing financial arrangements with Malaysia’s government that may have influenced lawmakers there, it said.

An Uber Asia Pacific spokesman declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Friday.

Malaysia passed two bills in July to legalize ride-hailing services which would operate on an “intermediation business license”, a new category specific for the service.

Reporting by Liz Lee; Writing by Emily Chow

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