And some good news for leakers who exposed other tax-dodging multinationals.
But first the main story, via El País:
Spanish tax officials raided Google’s Madrid offices on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation, with the internet company saying it was cooperating with local authorities.
A spokeswoman for Google said in a brief statement the company complied with fiscal legislation in Spain just as it did in all countries where it operated, adding that the company was working with authorities to answer all questions.
The search is linked to an investigation in to possible tax evasion. Google’s complex system of tax payments has been under scrutiny by the Spanish tax authorities for several years, which suspects it could be reducing its tax burden in Spain by channeling some income through Ireland.
The Spanish Tax Agency opened an investigation into Google’s tax affairs in 2011. The company’s Spanish affiliate was paying virtually no taxes and had even declared a loss for the previous tax year. The company eventually agreed to pay an extra €1.9 million on its 2007 and 2008 statements and the case was closed.
The European Commission has also been investigating Google’s tax affairs, and the company faces other probes throughout Europe. Google’s Paris offices were raided in May by French tax inspectors, who say the company owes €1.6 billion.
No prison for leakers who exposed tax dodgers
It’s a good news/bad news story, with the good news being that they’ll not serve time, and the bad news being that they were still convicted — although the journalist who received their leaks was no charged, the only unalloyed good news in the story.
Two French whistleblowers have been given suspended sentences and a journalist acquitted in the Luxleaks trial over revelations of tax-dodging deals between multinational companies and the Luxembourg authorities. Their lawyers had already declared their intention to appeal, claiming that their clients acted in the public interest.
Antoine Deltour, 31, Raphaël Halet, 40, were found guilty of leaking documents belonging to their former employer Price Waterhouse Coopers but journalist Edouard Perrin, who broke the story in the French TV programme Cash Investigation, was found not guilty.
Deltour was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and a 1,500-euro fine, while Halet was given a nine-month suspended sentence and a 1,000-euro fine.
The 30,000 pages of confidential documents they passed to the press revealed that multinationals, including Amazon, Apple, Ikea, Pepsi, McDonald’s and BNP-Paribas, negotiated “tax rulings” that allowed them to pay as little as one percent tax if they registered in the Grand Duchy.