Google faces $5B antitrust fine in India — but this time it can't settle

Google faces $5B antitrust fine in India — but this time it can't settle

Summary: The Indian antitrust watchdog is investigating similar claims of dominant market position abuse, just weeks after the European Union settled with the search giant.

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(Image: Connie Zhou/Google)

Just as Google's antitrust case in the European Union wraps up after the two agreed on a settlement package, the search giant faces similar hefty fines for alleged antitrust behavior in India.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based technology giant faces fines up to $5 billion after the Competition Commission of India (CCI) accused it of abusing its market position in the world's second-largest country by population.

The watchdog's investigations arm, the Director General, has been investigating Google for two years following a complaint filed by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) in 2011. A similar complaint was filed by a wedding website after, further adding weight to the watchdog's case.

And now the complaint has been made, under Indian law it cannot be withdrawn.

Although Google settled actions in the U.S. and the EU, India's antitrust law does not have a provision to allow companies to settle, The Times of India reports, which may mean offering concessions unlikely to appease the regulators.

According to the New Delhi-based publication, the Director General has collected feedback from third-parties in order to build up a case for legal assault, and is "likely to soon submit" its report to the CCI. 

The Indian government can impose fines of up to 10 percent of a company's global revenue, calculated over a three-year average period — just shy of $50 billion.

But worse for Google, the watchdog could also order the search giant to split up in what the report called "structural remedies," forcing the company to break up into separate, smaller companies.

Google said it was "extending full co-operation" to the Indian authorities, citing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's two-year review that led to no charges being brought.

Topics: Google, Government, Legal, India

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8 comments
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  • When is someone the best due to investments into innovations

    When is someone the best due to investments into innovations which gives us jobs and comfortable life, then must be punished!

    This is the perfect way for Apple + Microsoft to survive. They probably bribe many officials like Microsoft undoubtedly does almost in every country.

    Officials like just bribing that Google does not provide therefore we must punish them for innovating.
    Jiří Pavelec
    • Once again

      You make claims without any sort of backup. Does anyone take you seriously?
      athynz
      • backup? here it is:

        backup? here it is:
        "
        Do you know how does Microsoft earn money? Through a bribery in Slovakia, Czech republic, Hungary, ..... How much money does Microsoft have in governments' contracts all around the world?
        Microsoft bribery probe enters Russia, Pakistan.
        And some another corruption and bribing.
        Again another bribing in Italy, Romania, China.
        "

        it is very easy to find an articel about Microsoft bribery
        Jiří Pavelec
    • Covering for Google, Jiří Pavelec?

      I'm sensing you believe that Google has gotten to where it is by bribes, and feel that a quick attempt at misdirecting attention away from Google's wrong doings is to claim that only MS and Apple do that.

      Am I close?
      William.Farrel
      • what? Google bribes? No it's all due to real innovations, Microsoft bribes:

        what? Google bribes? No, Microsoft bribes:

        "Do you know how does Microsoft earn money? Through a bribery in Slovakia, Czech republic, Hungary, ..... How much money does Microsoft have in governments' contracts all around the world?
        Microsoft bribery probe enters Russia, Pakistan.
        And some another corruption and bribing.
        Again another bribing in Italy, Romania, China."
        Jiří Pavelec
  • I never understood the 10% of global revenue aspect...

    And not the revenue originating within their jurisdiction.
    Bruizer
    • India can make pretty much whatever rules it wants to...

      ...subject only to treaty obligations and its own constitution. It's up to foreign corporations to decide whether or not they want to do business there, given the laws and economic conditions.
      John L. Ries
  • "Cannot be withdrawn"

    That in and of itself is an interesting aspect of Indian law. Depending on the details, it actually makes some sense, as it obligates the federal government to make its case instead of "encouraging" the defendant to appease it.

    The ability of defendants to settle without admitting any wrongdoing has always troubled me. This isn't necessarily the best way to prevent that, but it has some appeal.
    John L. Ries