Dutch police arrested four drivers in Amsterdam early Sunday after they were found to be improperly using the Uber app for taxi services, posing another challenge to Uber Technologies Inc.’s efforts to expand in Europe.
The four have been released and may be fined as much as 4,200 euros ($5,300) each, Yeter Atmaca, spokeswoman of the Ministry of Environment & Infrastructure’s inspection department, said by phone today. “They were arrested and fined because it is illegal to offer these services without the right permits,” she said.
Governments and regulators in cities around the world are restricting Uber’s business on the grounds it poses safety risks and unfairly competes with licensed taxi services. Cabbies with permits that can cost 200,000 euros apiece have held protests in European cities including London, Madrid, Paris and Berlin.
“This action is unjustified and disproportional,” Uber said in an e-mailed statement today. “We remain in touch with the policy makers to familiarize them with how our technology works and the positive impact it has on mobility.”
Uber, which is available in more than 150 cities in 45 countries, raised $1.2 billion in June, valuing the San Francisco-based company at $17 billion. Uber said Oct. 9 it expanded its ride-sharing services to all users of the app in Amsterdam after testing through selected amateur drivers in July and August. The Dutch public prosecutor said July 31 it started a probe into Uber.
The four were arrested after four officials of the ministry’s inspection department posed as passengers, Atmaca said. The fine will be determined by the public prosecutor and may rise to as much as 10,000 euros each if the drivers are found using the Uber app again without the permits, she said.
The UberBlack and UberLux services offered by Uber aren’t prohibited, Atmaca said. Those services include rides between cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam and to and from Schiphol Airport, according to the company’s website.