Oslo: Taxi driver fraud suspicions spreading

Signs of widespread corruption among Oslo's taxi operators keep spreading, with drivers and taxi owners suspected of fleecing both their passengers and the city's social welfare system. A series of articles in Aftenposten has highlighted questionable practices among drivers suspected of underreporting income, charging excessive fares and engaging in welfare fraud. Tax authorities believe that more than 900 taxi owners and drivers have operated in the so-called black market, failing to report all the money they're taking in, in order to lower their tax liability. At the same time, more than 500 of these alleged tax cheats have been collecting welfare payments to which they weren't entitled. Welfare agency officials believe the alleged swindling has cost the city of Oslo more than NOK 100 million. "This is without doubt the biggest swindling case we've seen within a single industry," Magne Fladby of the social welfare agency NAV told Aftenposten. New evidence indicates some taxi drivers have also altered the meters in their cars, in order to register much larger tip income. Printed receipts have been thrown in the garbage, to destroy evidence. "This is pure tax fraud," said Erik Bergendahl, who has sold, installed and maintained taxi meters for 10 years. Oslo police, tax authorities and welfare officials are investigating the allegations against taxi drivers. Charges have already been brought against nearly 100 drivers and owners and Justice Minister Knut Storberget promises a crackdown, with possible seizure of taxi drivers' property.
Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Norway: Fighting the "un-culture", Oslo: Pakistani taxi drivers over-represented in tax fraud case

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