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Uber Ordered by Judge to Suspend Service in Colombia

Oscar Medina and Lizette Chapman

(Bloomberg) -- A judge ordered Uber Technologies Inc.’s operation in Colombia to suspend its ride-hailing business after a technology platform presented a lawsuit claiming the company was providing the service through unfair competition.

A judge at the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce, which regulates the market, ruled that Uber’s app violated competition norms, the regulator said Friday in a statement. Cotech SA, a taxi-service platform, filed the lawsuit against Uber.

“This violates the rules that regulate the market, generates a significant advantage in the market, and generates deviation from the clientele of Cotech,” the regulator said in a separate statement.

While the decision orders an “immediate” service suspension, the ride-hailing app can’t be forced to comply unless ordered to do so in a separate action, Andres Barreto, head of the superintendency, said. The U.S. company can still provide food-delivery service, Barreto added.

“After years of working proactively to bring sensible regulations for ride sharing to Colombia, we regret that with today’s decision the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce has failed to follow Colombian law and its regular process,” an Uber spokesman said in a statement. The San Francisco-based company appealed the ruling.

The decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for Uber’s global operations. Regulators in London, one of Uber’s largest markets, last month yanked its license to operate after concluding it wasn’t “fit and proper” to continue as it risked passenger safety by failing to properly vet drivers. Uber continues to operate in London while regulators consider its appeal.

Earlier this week, a German court ruled Uber had run afoul of its transit dispatch laws -- a transgression Uber representatives said the company is working to fix while it continues to operate its service.Uber is less entrenched in Colombia, scrapping plans in October to build a $40 million support and services center in the country. The company said more than 2 million people use the service, which involves 88,000 drivers.

To contact the reporters on this story: Oscar Medina in Bogota at omedinacruz@bloomberg.net;Lizette Chapman in San Francisco at lchapman19@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Jaramillo at ajaramillo1@bloomberg.net, ;Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Alistair Barr

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