Straits Times: Taking oBike Home Is Illegal – Even If Company Has Shut Down, Say Lawyers

Written by admin | July 3, 2018

SINGAPORE – The wheels may have come off for bicycle-sharing operator oBike, which has shut down its operations here. However lawyers have warned anybody thinking of taking one of its 70,000 two-wheelers left scattered around the island that doing so would be illegal.

Since the unexpected June 25 announcement of the company’s closure, videos have circulated online detailing how to dismantle the electronic lock found on the rear wheel of each oBike.

However, taking one of the firm’s rental bicycles in such a way would be illegal as they remain the property of oBike.

Mr Jonathan Kok, a partner with law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, said: “If any person unlocks the bicycle and removes the bicycles without oBike’s permission, that person would have committed theft.

“As the bicycles are the assets of oBike, the liquidator can sell the bicycles and use the money from the sale to settle debts owing to creditors, which may include refunding the deposits owing to users.”

However, he noted that whether users get a refund of their deposits depends on whether there is enough money raised from the sale of oBike’s assets to pay all creditors

Users could potentially face criminal charges if a police report is filed against him or her for taking an oBike home, added Farallon Law Corporation managing director Nicolas Tang.

oBike chairman Shi Yi told The Straits Times on Monday (July 2) that as part of its exit strategy, the beleaguered firm had considered giving away its bicycles to users in lieu of paying back their deposit, though this plan was ultimately dismissed.

However, Mr Kok said such a decision that can only be made by the liquidator, and not oBike itself. He added: “The liquidator will take into account the overall value of the assets of the company and the overall debts owing to the creditors (in particular the secured creditors) in order to determine what is the best way to raise money to pay off the creditors.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on 3 July 2018, with the headline ‘Taking an oBike home is illegal – even if company has shut down, say lawyers’.