Oslo: Taxi drivers suspected of working with gangs

A large number of Oslo taxi drivers already have been charged with tax evasion and welfare fraud. Now Oslo police suspect around 40 drivers and even more taxi owners of having close contact with Pakistani gangs, and operating as couriers of arms and drugs.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Monday that in some cases, the taxis are used as getaway cars after gang offensives in Oslo and the surrounding area.

Aftenposten followed up over the weekend on earlier reports of what's known locally as taxijuks, that is, widespread fraud that's enriched Pakistani-Norwegian taxi drivers and owners, who in turn send much of their ill-gotten gains back to Pakistan in an effort to hide assets from Norwegian tax authorities.

Local tax officials claim 337 taxi owners have failed to report an estimated NOK 406 million in income, while 589 drivers have driven black-market taxi operations to the tune of NOK 116 million. Around 20 owners have been reported to the police, and prosecutors have brought formal charges against five of them.

Nearly 900 taxi owners and drivers have received more than NOK 100 million in state welfare payments, at the same time they're believed to have driven black-market operations. More than 100 of them have been reported to police, and 20 have been convicted of welfare fraud. Another 350 have been warned that they face welfare reimbursement demands totalling NOK 57 million.

Aftenposten reported on Sunday that a 39-year-old taxi owner sold his house just before he was forced into bankruptcy for failure to pay millions in taxes and fees owed to the state. It's unclear what became of the proceeds of the sale, however, and the 39-year-old now lives on Norwegian welfare, even though he's linked to successful businesses in Pakistan including a bus company, a gas station and several retail stores.

Other taxi owners and drivers charged with tax evasion in Norway are known to have large, expensive homes in Pakistan, where their families live affluent lives.

Gang ties

Oslo police, meanwhile, have also uncovered ties between criminal Pakistani gangs in Oslo and more than 40 taxi drivers. The drivers are suspected of carrying gang members and their weapons, as well as drugs.

Undercover police have, for years, observed a "striking" number of taxis with their lights turned off in the vicinity of gang operations, noted Tom Ă˜streng of the Oslo Police Districe. Use of taxis, it's believed, is less risky than use of private cars that can pbe traced to their owners.

Many honest taxi drivers in Oslo and elsewhere in Norway now fear for the reputation of the entire industry. "There are many drivers who follow the rules and don't do anything wrong," driver Andivad Amin told Aftenposten. "This hurts everyone."

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Oslo: Taxi driver fraud suspicions spreading, Oslo: Pakistani taxi drivers over-represented in tax fraud case

1 comment:

FreeSpeech said...

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