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Google facing $5 BEEELLION antitrust fine in India

No settlement on the cards this time for the Chocolate Factory

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Google may be in the midst of securing a deal on its long-running search dispute with the European Union, but it’s still facing a possible $US5bn (£3bn) fine from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) over allegations it has abused its market leading position in the internet search space.

Local laws state that the CCI can impose a fine of up to 10 per cent of annual turnover, which is calculated as an average over three years. For the Chocolate Factory those revenues top a whopping $49bn over the three year period.

The CCI also has the power to order a company found to be too dominant to be broken down into smaller businesses.

The antitrust watchdog’s investigation arm, the Director General (DG), has been investigating Google for over two years now after a complaint by consumer rights group CUTS (Consumer Unity and Trust Society), filed back in 2011.

This was followed by another complaint by specialist wedding site matrimony.com, according to PTI.

Although Google has settled antitrust cases in the US, and recently with the EU, India’s rules are slightly different.

There’s apparently no settlement process for antitrust cases brought before the CCI and complaints can’t be withdrawn.

In any case, the complaints brought in India differ slightly from those investigated by regulators elsewhere.

"Google's unfair use of trademarks as well as its retaliatory conduct are not specifically addressed in the European settlement and are distinct theories of harm being pursued by the CCI,” matrimony.com lawyer Ferida Satarawala said.

“Therefore, this [EU] settlement is unlikely to address CCI's concerns in our case.”

For its part, a Google statement sent to PTI had the following:

We are extending full co-operation to the Competition Commission of India in their investigation. We're pleased that the conclusion of the Federal Trade Commission's two year review was that Google's services are good for users and good for competition.

This isn’t the first time Google has come under the scrutiny of the Indian authorities.

In November 2012 it was accused of misleading the government, violating accounting rules and hit with a Rs.76 crore (£8.7m) fine.

The Director General is expected to report its findings to the CCI soon. ®

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