The ousted chief executive of Uber Technologies called a lawsuit filed against him by one of the company’s top investors a “public and personal attack” without merit, according to court documents filed late on Thursday.
Venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, which says it owns 13 percent of Uber and controls 20 percent of the voting power, sued former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick last week to force him off the board, where he still has a seat, and rescind his remaining power there, citing fraud and deception.
Kalanick, in the first court filing in response to the lawsuit, said Benchmark’s legal action is part of a larger scheme to oust him from the company he helped found and take away his power. He also argued that the legal quarrel should take place in arbitration.
ALSO SEEUber Investor Benchmark Capital Says Gave Former CEO Kalanick a Month Before Suing
Benchmark’s lawsuit marks a rare instance of a well-regarded Silicon Valley investor suing the central figure at one of its own, highly successful startups. The case has stunned Silicon Valley’s venture capital community and created a divided Uber board and infighting among shareholders, many of whom have criticised Benchmark for suing.
At issue is a change to the board structure in 2016 to expand the number of voting directors by three, with Kalanick having the sole right to fill those seats.
In its lawsuit, Benchmark argues that Kalanick hid from the board a number of misdeeds, including allegations of trade-secret theft involving autonomous car technology and misconduct by Kalanick and other executives in handling a rape committed by an Uber driver in India, when he asked Uber’s board to give him those extra seats.
Benchmark says it was “fraudulently induced” to agree to the change and wants Kalanick to give up control of those seats.
Kalanick’s court filing rejects that allegation, saying that at the time of the board change “Benchmark was fully aware of all of the allegations involving Kalanick”, yet the firm “made no mention of having been ‘fraudulently induced’ to enter” into the agreement. Through May, the venture firm continued to support him. Then in June, Benchmark was part of a group of five investors who demanded Kalanick’s resignation as Uber’s CEO.
“The Benchmark principals also handed Kalanick a draft resignation letter, and told him he had hours to sign it, or else Benchmark would start a public campaign against him,” the court filing said.
Benchmark first backed Uber in 2011 with an investment of $12 million, according to court filings. With 13 percent ownership at the $68 billion valuation that Uber achieved last year, Benchmark’s stake would be worth almost $9 billion.
“Resorting to litigation was an extremely difficult step for Benchmark,” the firm said in a statement through a spokeswoman. “Failing to act now would mean endorsing behavior that is utterly unacceptable in any company, let alone a company of Uber’s size and importance.”
The US has imposed “sweeping” sanctions on officials in a Syrian government agency in response to a suspected chemical attack earlier this month.
The treasury department ordered a freeze on all assets in the US of 271 employees of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC).
The US believes it made the nerve agent that killed more than 80 people in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.
Syria says the incident was a fabrication.
President Bashar al-Assad has accused the West of making up events in Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April so the US had an excuse to carry out missile strikes on the government’s Shayrat airbase, which took place a few days after the alleged attack.
Syria ‘chemical attack’: What we know
In a statement on Monday, the treasury department said the 271 employees had been responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them”.
The sanctions mean that American citizens will be forbidden from having any dealings with them.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that “these sweeping sanctions target the scientific support centre for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilian men, women, and children.
“The United States is sending a strong message with this action that we will hold the entire Assad regime accountable for these blatant human rights violations in order to deter the spread of these types of barbaric chemical weapons.”
Witnesses have said they saw warplanes attack Khan Shiekhoun – but Russia, a key ally of President Assad, says a rebel depot of chemical munitions was hit.
Footage showed victims – many of them children – convulsing and foaming at the mouth. Sufferers were taken to hospitals across the border in Turkey.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has said that allegations of a chemical attack were “credible” based on a preliminary examination of the evidence.
More than 300,000 people have lost their lives and millions of people have been displaced since a peaceful uprising against President Assad six years ago turned into a full-scale civil war.
The UN Security Council is to hold emergency talks after an alleged chemical attack in Syria left dozens of civilians dead and wounded.
The release of chemicals in a rebel-held town in Idlib province brought furious international reaction.
Officials in Damascus deny opposition and Western claims that they used chemical weapons.
Russia’s defence ministry said a Syrian air strike had hit a rebel ammunition store that included chemical weapons.
In particular, “a workshop for the production of land mines filled with poisonous substances” had been hit, it said.
It seemed to support accounts by Syrian military sources a day earlier who reported an explosion at what they called a rebel chemical weapons factory in Khan Sheikhoun.
Earlier, the US and other powers had blamed the Syrian government.
Footage from the scene showed civilians, many of them children, choking and foaming at the mouth.
Witnesses said clinics treating the injured were then targeted by air strikes.
UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 72, including 20 children.
It was unable to say which chemical had been involved but pro-opposition groups said it was believed to have been the nerve agent Sarin.
The attack will overshadow a conference in Brussels at which 70 donor nations will discuss aid efforts in Syria. Delegates want to step up humanitarian access for thousands of civilians trapped by fighting.
Syria’s civil war has raged for more than six years, with no political solution in sight.
Nearly five million Syrians have fled the country and more than six million are internally displaced, the UN says. More than 250,000 people have been killed.
Wednesday’s emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was called by France and the UK as international outrage mounted over the attack.
Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, said the incident was “very bad news for peace in Syria”.
“This is clearly a war crime and I call on the Security Council members who have previously used their vetoes to defend the indefensible to change their course,” he told reporters in New York.
The spectre of nerve agents in Syria – again
US blames Assad over ‘chemical attack’
Aftermath of attack in pictures (Warning graphic images)
Why is there a war in Syria?
In a statement, US President Donald Trump condemned what he called “these heinous actions” by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused the Syrian government of “brutal, unabashed barbarism”.
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said it was a “horrific” attack and that there should be a “clear identification of responsibilities and accountability” for it.
The BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Brussels says the attack could prove a stumbling block at Wednesday’s international conference.
The EU hopes to use the prospect of funds for reconstruction as a bargaining chip in the faltering peace talks, our correspondent says, but the latest developments will deepen the opposition of those who say now is not the time to discuss financial support for areas controlled by the Syrian government.
Five people have died and at least 40 were injured after an attacker drove a car along a pavement in Westminster, stabbed a policeman and was shot dead by police in the grounds of Parliament.
The dead officer has been named as PC Keith Palmer, 48, a husband and father.
PM Theresa May said the attack was “sick and depraved” and struck at values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech.
The attacker has not been named by police.
Acting Deputy Commissioner and head of counter terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, Mark Rowley, said they think they know who he is and that he was inspired by international and Islamist-related terrorism, but gave no further details.
The attack unfolded at about 14.40 GMT when a single attacker drove a car along a pavement over Westminster Bridge, near the Houses of Parliament in central London, killing at least two people and injuring many more.
The car then crashed into railings outside the Houses of Parliament.
The attacker, armed with a knife, ran to Parliament where he was confronted by the police. PC Palmer – who was not armed – was then stabbed and killed.
The attacker was shot dead by armed officers.
Mr Rowley paid tribute to PC Palmer, saying: “He was someone who left for work today expecting to return home at the end of his shift, and he had every right to expect that would happen.”
“Heartbroken” former colleague, Conservative MP James Cleverly, paid tribute to the “lovely man” he had known for 25 years. The pair had served together in the Royal Artillery before PC Palmer became a policeman.
Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood – a former Army officer whose brother died in the Bali terrorist bombing in 2002 – attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of Pc Palmer.
What we know so far
May condemns attack
‘Terror incident’: In pictures
At the scene: Calm and stoic mood
Mrs May said the attack was a “sick and depraved” attack on the heart of the capital. Such attempts to defeat UK values were “doomed to failure”, she said.
She paid tribute to the “exceptional men and women” of the police force who responded to the attack, saying: “We will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”
The prime minister added: “The location of this attack was no accident.
“The terrorist chose to strike at the heart of our capital city where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech.”
She is expected to make a statement in the Commons later.
The husband of murdered MP Jo Cox said the “name I will remember” from the Westminster attack was that of PC Keith Palmer – not the attacker.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “My message to those that want to harm us and destroy our way of life is: You won’t succeed; you won’t divide us; we won’t be cowed by terrorists.”
BBC Newsnight reported there was a suggestion the car used in the attack was hired from an address in Birmingham. However, this has not been confirmed.
In latest developments:
There will be more armed and unarmed officers on duty in London and across the country as a “precautionary measure”
The prime minister said the UK terror threat level would remain at severe – its second highest – meaning an attack is “highly likely”
Westminster underground station was shut and remained open for interchange only
Home Secretary Amber Rudd urged everyone to remain calm but be vigilant and if they see anything they are concerned about report it to the police
A group of French schoolchildren were on the bridge and three were injured
13 students from Edge Hill University in Lancashire were also caught up in the incident – two were taken to hospital and described as walking wounded; two others had minor injuries
People worried about family and friends can call the police casualty bureau on: 0800 056 0944 or 0207 158 0010. Anyone with images or footage of the incident is urged to send them to www.ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk
By Dominic Casciani, home affairs correspondent
The carnage on Westminster Bridge and inside the grounds of Parliament is the attack that security chiefs here in the UK have long been preparing for.
Terrorism looks not just to kill and maim – but to create panic and such a sense of disorder that it rocks a city or nation to its foundations.
And this attacker sought to do so in as low-tech way as is possible.
The days when terrorism meant large, complex bombs and months of planning are gone: Western security agencies – particularly MI5 and its partner agencies – are very, very good at identifying those plots and disrupting them.
The longer it takes to plan such an attack, the more people who are involved, the more chances there will be for security services to learn what is going on.
Read more from Dom.
Eyewitness Rick Longley said: “We were just walking up to the station and there was a loud bang and a guy, someone, crashed a car and took some pedestrians out.
“They were just laying there and then the whole crowd just surged around the corner by the gates just opposite Big Ben.
“A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and just started plunging it into the policeman.
“I have never seen anything like that. I just can’t believe what I just saw.
Media caption‘At least five mown down’ by car on Westminster Bridge
An eye witness, Radoslaw Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Centre for European Studies, posted a video to Twitter showing people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge.
In other developments:
MPs were locked in the House of Commons for more than four hours and business suspended
Around 1,000 people were taken to Westminster Abbey for safety and were then processed by police
The House of Commons and Lords will sit at their usual times on Thursday
The White House said Mrs May had spoken to President Donald Trump about the attack
The Eiffel tower went dark at midnight in homage to the London victims
London mayor Sadiq Khan praised citizens and emergency services for their “tremendous bravery” and said: “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.”