UBER'S EX-CEO and several senior executives were "aware" of evidence that all but confirmed the theft of trade secrets from Waymo.
That's according to Reuters, reporting on the latest in the court case between Google-owned Waymo and Uber. The court heard that Uber's bosses had seen a letter about stolen trade secrets but that this evidence had been withheld.
US District Judge William Alsup suggested that employees could face criminal charges as a result and ordered prosecutors to look-in to the allegation.
Speaking to Uber officials during the hearing, the judge said: "On the surface it looks like you covered this up. It seems like there are so many bad things that Uber has done in this case. Usually, it's more divided."
Uber has been researching autonomous vehicle technology for some time. It has been accused by Google of stealing information from Waymo when a key executive left the firm, only later to come and work for Uber.
Waymo believes that Uber gained access to confidential information detailing its autonomous car designs.
The case is just the latest in a string of difficulties faced by Dara Khosrowshahi, who was only drafted in as CEO of troubled Uber in August.
Officially, Uber has downplayed these claims, saying its teams are unaware of the incident. These claims come as the company recently finalised a billion-dollar investment deal from Japanese venture capital firm SoftBank.
The letter, from former Uber security specialist Richard Jacobs, claims that the company taught employees how to get hold of rivals' trade secrets.
Angela Padilla, an in-house lawyer at the firm, said: "There was no effort to cover this up", and claims that she has taken "full responsibility" for the situation.
The ride-hailing app has also been slammed for its cover-up of a catastrophic 2016 data breach. Andrew Bushby, UK director at Fidelis Cybersecurity, is one of the critics.
"It's unacceptable for companies such as Uber to take more than a year to report a breach, especially when it concerns the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers. Uber has had a very challenging year so far, and this will undoubtedly make it worse," he said.
"Hopefully they, and other organisations will learn a very real lesson from this. Organisations cannot just run away from cyber blackmail, whether it's ransomware, encryption or a disclosure threat.
"Paying the demand and pretending it didn't happen is not acceptable and they are now taking the word of the blackmailer that they have deleted the data and not sold it." µ
Alexa. Amazon News. Cyberspace
Investigation will 'take a close look at the culture of the company'
Cements all kinds of commitments from both sides
Firm warns that 'techical error' exposed names and email addresses