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Google’s Paris offices raided in tax fraud investigation

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images North America, AFP | The Google logo displayed at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California on September 2, 2015.

French investigators raided Google’s Paris headquarters on Tuesday as part of a probe over tax payments, the country’s state financial prosecutor’s office has said.

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“The state financial prosecutor, assisted by the Central Anti-Corruption and Financial and Fiscal Violations Office and 25 IT experts, conducted raids at Google’s Paris premises,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

France is seeking some 1.6 billion euros ($1.79 billion) in back taxes from the US Internet giant, criticised for its use of aggressive tax optimisation techniques, a finance ministry source had said in February.

“The investigation focuses on whether the company Google Ireland Ltd has a permanent establishment in France and if, in not declaring part of its business conducted on French territory, it has violated its tax obligations,” the prosecutor’s office said.

A spokesman for Google said the company was cooperating with the French authorities.

“We comply fully with French law,” Google spokesman Al Verney said in a statement sent to Reuters by email.

France, Britain and other countries have long complained at the way Google, Yahoo! and other digital giants generate profits in their countries but have their tax base in other countries, where corporate tax rates are far lower.

Google has its European headquarters in Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is just 12.5 percent, much lower than most EU countries.

Google had in January agreed to pay 130 million pounds in back taxes to Britain, prompting criticism from opposition lawmakers and campaigners.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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