Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is facing a record-breaking fine from the European Commission (EC) due to allegedly monopoly abuse. The search giant has been accused of promoting its shopping services in Internet searches at the expense of rivals.
The EC is aiming to hit Google with a fine of €3 billion, around $3.4 billion, although the amount can go as high as €6 billion, the maximum possible or a tenth of Google’s total annual sales, as reported by the Telegraph.
The large amount would easily surpass the agency’s toughest antitrust fine to date, which is the €1.1 billion punishment that the EC gave to the microchip giant Intel not long ago. Sources familiar with Google’s case have said that an announcement will be made before the summer break.
However, the move could take place as soon as next month, even though the unnamed source from the Telegraph added that Google’s bill for the antitrust charges had not been finalised yet.
Google has been formally charged with unlawfully promoting its own price comparison service in general search results while simultaneously relegating those of smaller rivals, denying them traffic. Brussels officials appear to have been finishing touches in the seven-year investigation.
Besides the record fine, the California-based company will be banned from continuing with the search manipulation that favors itself. The company has previously resisted a direct interference in its algorithms and won, but this may be the case that could change the heart of the business for Google.
A tougher Competition Commissioner
The previous Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, sought to agree to a deal with Google without bringing formal charges. However, the new representative from the EC has brought tougher measures against the giant.
According to lawyers in Brussels, Margarethe Vestager, the new Competition Commissioner, has added a new and more aggressive style to the role. Vestager has even raised the possibility of further charges in other specialised web search markets such as travel information and maps.
Source: The Telegraph