Google's Paris offices searched in tax fraud probe: police

24th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

French police searched the Paris offices of US Internet giant Google on Tuesday as part of a tax fraud investigation, a police source said.

French authorities believe Google owes 1.6 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in back taxes, a source close to the matter said in February.

Google is one of several multinational corporations that have come under fire in Europe for paying extremely low taxes by shifting revenue across borders in an often complex web of financial arrangements.

Its European operations are headquartered in Ireland, which has some of the lowest corporate tax rates in the region.

Google France received a "notification" of the investigation back in March 2014, which did not give any precise figures.

It has been raided by French authorities before, in June 2011, during an investigation into transfers to its Irish headquarters.

The company was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai defended Google's tax practices during a visit to Paris in February.

"We're a global company. We have to abide by tax laws everywhere, we do abide by local tax laws in every single country," he said.

"We're advocating strongly for a simpler global tax system," he added.

France has previously refused to negotiate the amount of back taxes it would request.

However, a source inside France's tax authority said in February that bargaining may still be possible.

"This does not mean that Google will ultimately pay 1.6 billion," the source told AFP. "There will be appeals, and perhaps a negotiation in the end, in particular on penalties."

© 2016 AFP

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