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Home NATIONALPolice tighten grip on Uber drivers
Wed, 17 Aug, 2016 12:28:47 AM
FTimes- Xinhua Report, Aug 17
File Photo Lehtikuva.
Finnish law enforcement is tightening its grip on drivers who take paying customers as Uber service providers, the police said on Tuesday.
The Helsinki police told local media that from now on a criminal investigation will be started in all cases when an alleged Uber driver is apprehended. The practice has been agreed with prosecutors. Before the latest decision, police issued direct fines in most cases.
The new system is likely to lead to fines in most cases, but also opens the way to imprisonment up to half a year for the crime of running illegal cab services.
Criminal Police Inspector Pekka Seppala told national radio Yle that if the investigation shows that a person has driven for the organization for a longer period, he or she will have to surrender the earnings to the state.
There are currently some 50 cases under investigation. Notices are reaching the police at an increasing rate, but Seppala described the phenomenon as "marginal."
While the drivers may face harder allegations, the Finnish court system has faced problems in prosecuting the organization.
Prosecutor Kaisa Ahla has recently suspended an initial investigation into the business activities of the Finnish Uber organization. She explained in a written decision obtained by the internet news service Uusi Suomi that further investigation would be too costly as the people responsible were abroad.
The CEO of the Helsinki Cabs Anssi Roitto criticized the decision of the prosecutor. Roitto told newspaper Uusi Suomi that the cab industry attributes the problem to the Uber organization, not individual drivers. "But now this illegal activity can continue with a tacit consent," Roitto said.
According to prosecutors, Uber Finland does not consider itself as the actual operator, but the drivers in Finland sign contracts with a Dutch subsidiary of Uber. The company in Holland also handles the payments.
In a case in Finland earlier this year, an Uber driver said he had made 3,500 euros (3,940 U.S. dollars) a month and the organization had taken 20 percent as commission. The driver worked five or six days a week
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