Paris Google Office Raided in Tax Probe
In the June of 2015, nearly a year prior to Tuesday’s raid, a probe had been launched due to suspicion of Google Ireland. Due to the uncertainty about whether or not Google Ireland had fairly met all of its fiscal obligations, an investigation was initiated to confirm or deny the possibility of foul play.
The Google Ireland probe was only one of several elements that have consistently surrounded multiple investigations into Google’s financial integrity on the European continent. Several examiners have consistently expressed concerns that the tax deals reported by the company ($190 million accounting for the period between 2005 and 2014) seem conspicuously low for a company of Google’s scale and stature.
The European Commission hopes to collect enough information from their various ongoing investigations to substantiate is allegations. One particularly significant accusation that the European Commission has launched against Google is that its own services have been the subject of favoritism. Investigators purport that Google might be exercising certain powers to handicap the influence of competitors’ content on their platform.
Earlier in the year, the European Commission issued a direct accusation against Google for violating antitrust. Essentially, the Commission stated that the Internet superpower has been liberally taking advantage of its mobile platform presence for the purpose of strong-arming competitors out of the competition.
One suspected practice is the supposedly forced requirement for phone manufacturers to install Google Search and Chrome applications on mobile devices before setting them out to launch. Investigators claimed that making Google the default search service for manufacturer’s mobile devices was a requirement for the licensing of Google proprietary apps. Left with no choice but to either comply with the request or lose access to the proprietary apps, certain manufacturers were prevented from releasing mobile phones on OS’s that compete with Google due to its monopoly over pieces of open source code.
The European Commission stated that Google’s alleged liberal abuse of its significantly large influence over competitors constitutes the standing regulations for fair business conduct. If the accusations hold water, then investigation would reveal several examples of Google enacting various policies meant to keep their playing field from being even.
The Tuesday raid was not the first of its kind that has been carried out on Google’s Paris headquarters. In the year 2011, French investigators raided Google’s Paris office on account of a probe surrounding their financial flows within Europe. Early on in 2016, Google was urged to compensate the French government with tax payments that totaled up to approximately $1.75 billion.
In response to the ongoing allegations, Google has repeatedly asserted that it complies with the tax laws and fair business policies of all of the countries that it operates within. While the company has continued to cooperate with the relevant authorities, there has yet to be a conclusive verdict on the veracity of the allegations or the Internet giant’s defense of its integrity.