Taxi app businesses in corruption crackdown: hundreds of ‘dodgy licences’ issued

Hundreds of dodgy licences have been issued to drivers working for ‘taxi app’ businesses in Portugal.

This is the claim today after yet another judicial police investigation started rounding-up ‘official suspects’.

Say reports, the dismantled criminal network was composed of various people responsible for driving schools and IMT (department of transport)-accredited training centres, two doctors, one lawyer, one public sector employee and a number of others who are believed to have actively promoted the ‘scheme’ focused on the fraudulent obtaining of certificates for drivers.

In some cases the drivers ‘fraudulently obtained’ licenses to transport children.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã suggests the network even managed to licence ex-cons – something the law setting out conditions for taxi-app businesses “expressly prohibits”.

Part-and-parcel of the operation were ‘false medical certificates and false psychological evaluations’ (both crucial to the issuing of licences for passenger-transport).

Says CM, dozens of searches went ahead yesterday (Tuesday) at various driving schools and IMT offices in Lisbon, with “hundreds of documents seized”.

These documents will be “fundamental” to sustaining proof, says the paper.

Searches also involved homes, some of them in ‘difficult neighbourhoods’.

The eight people arrested spent last night in the cells and were due to be taken before a magistrate today.

“Operation Pandora” – as this latest anti-corruption investigation has been called – has left traditional taxi drivers ‘unsurprised’, say reports.

But it has left at least one of the operators in the sector ‘nonplussed’.

Said Sérgio Pereira, director-general of Kapten (formerly Chauffeur Privé): “I can’t see the reason for all this illegality. It’s such an accessible process”.

Anyone keen to drive for any of these online businesses only has to show they do not have a criminal record and they are approved by the IMT, he said.

Training (50 hours) costs between 150-170 euros, and the IMT then issues the necessary certificate for 30 euros.

The new law governing ‘unmarked taxi services’ came into effect last November and allowed thousands of drivers, representing apps like Uber, Cabify, Taxify and Kapten, to operate legally.

Say reports, right now there are over 6000 of these drivers officially working in Portugal.

[email protected]