Google Paris Raid: Investigators May Take Months to Analyze Obtained Data

Google Reception

French Financial Prosecutor Eliane Houlette said investigators will take months or possibly years to analysts the computer data obtained during a raid conducted on the headquarters of Google in Paris last week.

In an interview with Europe 1 radio on Sunday, Houllete said they collected a “massive amount of data”— at least as much as the Panama papers or even more terabytes. She added that the analysis will “take several months. I hope it will not be for several years.

Google accused of tax fraud and money laundering

The financial prosecutor explained that they do not have “extremely powerful software” that would allow them to conduct their investigation faster. Google is facing allegations of aggravated tax fraud and money laundering.

The investigation is focused on Google Ireland. They want to find out whether the search engine giant’s subsidiary has a permanent base in France, if it did not declare some of its activities, and failed its fiscal obligations including corporate tax and valued added tax.

According to Houlette, the investigation against Google is the biggest operation conducted by the financial prosecutor’s office. She noted that Google is one of the world’s largest companies in terms of capitalization.

The French government claimed that Googled owed €1.6 billion in back taxes. The amount was significantly higher than the £130 million in back taxes it agreed to pay to the UK government.

Google’s spokesperson in Europe recently stated that they are cooperating with French authorities. He added that the search engine giant complies with the French law.

Secret operation

During the interview Houlette said their investigation against Google started in June last year when tax authorities filed a complaint. According to her, they treated the allegation with “complete confidentiality,” and called it Operation Tulip.

She said almost 100 people were involved in the operation to raid the company’s headquarters in Paris. They secretly prepared the operation to surprise Google on May 24.

Houlette added that currently Google will pay a few millions euros in taxes in France. She criticized the search engine giant and other tech companies such as (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) for evading taxes in the United States and Europe by using “tax optimization.”

Meanwhile, French Finance Minister said there will no deal for Google and vowed to collect the maximum amount of tax it owed to France. He said, ” We’ll go all the way. There could be other cases.”