Hong Kong authorities have been criticized for setting the bail amount at a high level for the release of some arrested Uber staffers and drivers.
Charles W. Tsang, a blogger who claims to be familiar with law, remarked that HK$200,000 is an absurdly high sum for an offense of this nature.
Authorities seemed to have imposed a stiff fine in the name of bail, Tsang wrote on his Facebook page.
The comments came after police arrested a total of ten Uber drivers and company staffers this week on charges of running an illegal service and operating without proper insurance.
Eight of the arrested have been released on a bail of HK$200,000 each, according to reports.
Some media outlets have noted that such a huge amount of bail was set back in 2006 on Mao Yuping, the wife of former Shanghai tycoon Zhou Zhengyi, who was charged with manipulating the shares prices of listed firm Shanghai Land Holdings and perverting the course of public justice.
In April 2006, Mao was found guilty of fraud in relation to letters of credits worth HK$89 million.
Tsang pointed out that the maximum penalty for illegal carriage of passengers “for reward or for hire” is only a fine of HK$10,000, and imprisonment for six months for a second or subsequent conviction.
Meanwhile, the person who uses a vehicle without third-party insurance shall be liable to a fine of $10,000 and to imprisonment for 12 months.
The person may be “disqualified from holding or obtaining a license to drive a motor vehicle for such period as the court may determine, but not less than 12 months nor more than 3 years from the date of conviction”.
Tsang argued that both “illegal carriage of passengers for reward or for hire” and “using vehicle without third-party insurance” are not severe crimes that come along with heavy punishment.
Hence, the bail amount of HK$200,000 on each of the arrested Uber staffers and drivers is unreasonable, he said.
The money demanded represents a “coercive fine” rather than bail, Tsang added.
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