Raid on Miles: Carsharing company alleged to have defrauded Berlin of up to 30 million euros

Published On: 16.October.2023Categories: Legal, Start-up & Foundation2 min read
Avatar photo
Nora Wölflick writes about interesting, topical issues for the Love & Law Blog at Recht 24/7.

Investigations are underway against Berlin-based carsharing provider Miles on suspicion of illegally avoiding parking fees. As the Berlin police announced on Wednesday, the Berlin State Criminal Police Office, police in North Rhine-Westphalia and Austrian police searched offices of the provider and companies cooperating with it and the homes of the managing directors on behalf of the public prosecutor’s office.

Suspicion of large-scale fraud

It is about the suspicion of “gang and commercial fraud and computer fraud, gang and commercial falsification of technical records and document suppression,” police said. It is estimated that the state of Berlin could suffer damages of up to 30 million euros in unpaid parking fees.

Did Miles cheat on parking fees?

Miles confirmed the investigation. A search had taken place, “in which we cooperated fully and disclosed all requested data records and documents to the investigating authorities,” a spokeswoman for the company told business magazine Capital. In Berlin, Miles “automatically pays the parking fees to the districts via so-called handyparking.” Miles did not want to release further information in view of the ongoing proceedings.

Conflict over parking fees

For Miles, which in recent years had become one of Germany’s largest car-sharing providers with vehicles in a number of cities, the investigation brings an old conflict to a head. The company, which sees its services as part of the urban mobility offer, had repeatedly complained that in some places it had to pay the same parking fees as private car owners. Depending on the city, Miles negotiates very different models for the use of parking space.

Manipulation of telemetry data?

In Berlin, the parking fees incurred are determined automatically by a third-party company and paid to the authorities. This is based on telemetry data, in which the vehicles send their location data and the length of the parking time is transmitted. Now, according to the police, there is suspicion that the company has manipulated this telemetry data in part to avoid paying fees.

Federal government must react

If the allegations against the company are substantiated, the federal government will probably also have to deal with the case. Just a few weeks ago, the Ministry of Transport promised the company subsidies for new electric cars amounting to almost one million euros. This would then be put to the test.

According to the police, the regulatory authorities and the fines office noticed “significant deviations in the reliability of the payment of parking fees” as well as “an unusually high number of parking fee violations” by Miles vehicles as early as 2019. Thus, the suspicion of manipulation had arisen in the first place. Data carriers and documents of the company and partner companies were seized in the offices concerned and are now to be evaluated.