BUSINESS

Revenu Quebec Executes Search Warants At Uber Offices In Montreal

05/14/2015 11:18 EDT | Updated 05/27/2015 10:59 EDT

Quebec's revenue agency has opened a new front in the regulatory struggle over the ride service's operations.

Twenty Revenu Québec officers executed two search warrants at Montreal-area offices on Thursday as part of a tax investigation, the agency said in a press statement.

Revenu Québec has "reasonable grounds to believe that offenses have been committed against tax laws," the statement said.

Agency spokesman Stephane Dion told The Canadian Press it is too early to say whether charges will be laid.

"The investigation has been going on for several months," he said.

"At the moment we have 20 investigators on the premises of Uber Canada Inc. The goal is to obtain as much information as possible and these documents will then be analyzed. After that, we'll be able to determine whether charges will be laid.

"Revenu Quebec is responsible for applying tax laws. We have the power to recommend that charges be laid. And they can be accompanied by fines and prison sentences of up to five years if individuals or the company are found guilty."

Dion refused to say whether any individuals were being targeted.

Asked for reaction, Uber spokeswoman Susie Heath said in an email that "we look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders in Quebec to foster innovation, create jobs, and provide consumers with much needed affordable transit options."

In Canada, as in many places, the Uber app's paid driver service UberX has run into trouble with municipal authorities who see it as a violation of taxi licencing by-laws. Uber counters it’s not a ride-sharing company, but an app that connects drivers with riders.

In Montreal, some 40 Uber cars had been seized as of last month. Toronto police launched a crackdown on UberX drivers earlier this year, with undercover officers running stings that resulted in 22 charges being laid.

Asked for reaction, Uber spokeswoman Susie Heath said in an email that "we look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders in Quebec to foster innovation, create jobs, and provide consumers with much needed affordable transit options.''

UberX drivers are also seeing tensions with cab drivers and taxi companies, who see them as unlicensed, and therefore unfair, competition.

The same day as the raids in Montreal, Uber announced the launch of a food delivery service in Toronto, part of the company's strategy to expand beyond ride-sharing and taxi services.

With earlier reporting and files from The Canadian Press

Also on HuffPost

Celebrity Tax Evaders