Google faces record €3b fine from European Commission: Report

A British newspaper has reported that the EU will fine Google a record €3 billion over its alleged manipulation of search results to its own advantage.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor on

Google is facing a record antitrust fine of around €3 billion from the European Commission in the coming weeks, British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph has reported.

The European Union has accused Google of promoting its shopping service in internet searches at the expense of rival services in a case that has dragged on since late 2010.

Several people familiar with the matter told Reuters last month that they believed after three failed attempts at a compromise in the past six years, Google now had no plans to try to settle the allegations unless the EU watchdog changed its stance.

The Sunday Telegraph cited sources close to the situation as saying that officials planned to announce the fine as early as next month, but that the bill has not yet been finalised.

Google will also be banned from continuing to manipulate search results to favour itself and harm rivals, the newspaper said.

The commission can fine firms up to 10 percent of their annual sales, which in Google's case would be a maximum possible sanction of more than €6 billion. The biggest antitrust fine to date was a €1.1 billion fine imposed on chip-maker Intel in 2009.

In the case of Intel, it was accused of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour against AMD, which included direct payments to manufacturers in a bid to delay or cancel product launches that used AMD processors.

The commission and Google both declined to comment.

Google continues to find itself in hot water across Europe.

Last month, the commission delivered its preliminary view on anti-trust concerns regarding Android, stating that Google has abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and network operators.

"Based on our investigation thus far, we believe that Google's behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players, in breach of EU antitrust rules," Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said at the time.

This follows the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) making a similar ruling in March against a Google appeal.

France is currently looking to claim €1.6 billion in back taxes from Google, with Paris saying it would not make a deal with Google.

Google reached a £130 million settlement with British tax authorities for the period since 2005, which British politicians criticised as "disproportionately small".

In its latest Federal Budget, the Australian government announced that it would be targeting multinationals by introducing a Diverted Profits Tax (DPT) from July 1, 2017, modelled on the UK DPT, also known as the "Google Tax".

"Those seeking to do the wrong thing will be left with no doubt that deliberate tax avoidance and evasion will not be tolerated," Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison said. "Tax cheats will be tracked down and will face the full force of the law."

With AAP

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