European Union competition chief Margrethe Vestager said Thursday morning she’s ready to investigate Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s 130 million-pound ($185.5 million) tax deal with the U.K. if there are complaints. It didn’t take long for the first to surface.
"If we find that there is something to be concerned about, if someone writes to us and says, well, this is maybe not as it should be, then we will take a look,” she said in an interview on BBC’s Radio 4. Within hours, Stewart Hosie, the deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, said he’d written a letter calling for a probe into Google’s arrangements.
Vestager’s comments signal that she may be about to open another front in a sprawling probe into multi-national conglomerates tax deals in European countries that has already ensnared Apple Inc., Amazon.con Inc. and Starbucks Corp.
“Working people and small and medium businesses do not have the luxury of negotiating down the amount of tax they have to pay -– and we must now have independent verification that Google has not been extended that luxury,” Hosie said in a statement. The British government’s methodology underlying the agreement is “shrouded in secrecy,” he said.
Google representatives declined to immediately comment on the BBC interview. The commission didn’t immediately respond to a request for details.
The dispute over Google’s tax settlement with the U.K., which was lauded as a victory by the Treasury but dismissed as "derisory" by lawmakers, deepened Tuesday after Labor finance spokesman John McDonnell demanded to know if Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne personally signed off on the deal.