(Photo via Business of Apps)

Buenos Aires City authorities have escalated a travel “restriction warning” to an “absolute” travel ban on five Uber Argentina executives.

According to El Cronista, all five men have been prohibited from leaving the country due to an ongoing tax evasion investigation.

The City’s Recess Court of Misdemeanors and Offenses issued the order to Enrique Gibert, Roberto Rattagan, Ricardo Mihanovich, Fernando Cao and Diego Oliveira, stating that only in an “exceptional” case could they require a judicial authorization for leaving the country.

District Attorney Martín Lapadú appealed for the strongest travel restriction to judges Marcelo Vázquez and Jorge Franza, arguing that just the warning was insufficient. In the ruling, the judges stated that they found the request to be “reasonable” since the risks were not neutralized “by a mere warning” (aka a slap on the wrist).

To this, they added how “in a criminal proceeding, the accused needs prior authorization from a judge to leave a country,” a move that serves as a precaution in the cases where there is a flight risk, added the judges, and they are not allowed to come and go as they please.

Judge Víctor Trionfetti, of the second court of Contentious Administrative and Tax Matters, filed a preliminary injunction in April 2016 that ordered the Buenos Aires government to suspend any of Uber’s activity in its jurisdiction. “Uber’s activity in the city infringes upon our legal system due to a series of possible violations of the constitution and local laws,” the judge said.

In response to this, Uber sources told Télam that the app will “continue functioning with absolute normalcy, protected by the Civil and Commercial Code.”

They added that while the company works in more than 120 cities, they always abide by the different local laws. At the end of November 2017, the third court of the Chamber of Criminal Appeals upheld a ruling maintaining that Uber engaged in “illicit tax evasion conduct.”