Uber pays $2.6M to settle historical charges it violated Dutch taxi laws

Another fine for Uber’s historical playbook: The ride-hailing giant has agreed to pay around $2.6 million (€2.3 million) to settle charges in the Netherlands related to violations of local taxi law, dating back to when it was operating a peer-to-peer ride-hailing service in contravention of local transport laws.

Uber offered its UberPop service in the Netherlands between July 2014 and November 2015, when it pulled the plug — saying the service “had become a block to regulatory progress” — which is a long-winded way of saying it wasn’t legal to operate it.

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service (DPPS) announced the settlement today, saying it consists of a €2,025,000 fine across the four Uber companies — Uber International BV, Uber Netherlands BV, Uber BV and Rasier Operations BV — in addition to €309,409 in “criminally earned capital” via Uber’s 20 percent commission on rides, which is being clawed back.

The DPPS said it’s happy to settle with Uber as it believes the courts would have reached the same penalizing conclusion.

In a press release announcing the settlement it writes that the four named Uber entities “co-perpetrated” the violation of local taxi law, which requires transport services to have a taxi license to operate (whereas with UberPop Uber allowed anyone with a vehicle to sell a ride).

Uber BV has been given the maximum possible fine (€810,000). The other three entities have been fined half the maximum — as a result of smaller roles in the violation, the DPPS said.

“The person responsible for the rollout of UberPop in the Netherlands has performed a 90-hour [community service] penalty,” it adds.

Commenting on the settlement in a statement, an Uber spokesperson said: “We have changed the way we do business across the world, putting integrity in the core of everything that we do. We are committed to being a good partner to Dutch cities. We have shut down UberPOP services in 2015. Since then, we only allow professional and certified drivers on the app, through uberX, Van and Black services.”

Also since 2015: Europe’s top court judged Uber to be a transport company — firmly closing the regional book on any more attempts to circumvent taxi laws by claiming it’s “just a technology platform.”