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

The Indian antitrust watchdog is investigating similar claims of dominant market position abuse, just weeks after the European Union settled with the search giant.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
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And now the complaint has been made, under Indian law it cannot be withdrawn.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.

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