Google’s last-ditch move to avoid record fine
GOOGLE launched a midnight attempt to disrupt the record fine it was handed for monopoly abuse, EU documents reveal.
A report quietly published by the European Commission in the week before Christmas reveals that Google submitted new evidence at 11:40pm on June 26 – less than 12 hours before it was hit with a €2.4bn (£2.1bn) penalty.
Google was forced to pay the fine after a seven-year investigation into claims it had used the dominance of its search engine to squeeze out price comparison websites in favour of its own shopping service. Its late evidence, based on research from data specialists Nielsen, showed “strong competition” exercised by online retailers such as Amazon. The existence of Amazon, ebay and others has been a central plank of Google’s insistence that its practice of setting aside special territory in search results for its shopping service does not harm consumers.
However, by the time Google’s evidence had arrived, the commission had already decided to fine the company. The “prohibition decision”, a 215-page report into its competition investigation, chastised the firm for failing to come up with the information earlier.
“The commission considers it highly unlikely … that Google could not have submitted the studies well in advance of the late evening,” the report says.
Google’s €2.4bn fine is the biggest ever for breaking EU competition law.