Google’s ongoing fight against allegations of monopolistic trade practices in Europe has received a severe jolt as the American search giant has now been fined 438 million rubles ($6.75 million) by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) in Russia for allegedly violating the country’s antitrust laws by forcing Android OEMs to install its services as default on Android devices being sold in the country. The investigation was initiated by the FAS after the country’s largest internet company, Yandex, filed a complained with the regulator alleging that Google’s contract with Android device makers violates Russian anti-monopoly laws. The U.S. company earlier this year settled a long-standing dispute with the tax authorities in the U.K. over alleged tax-avoidance, by agreeing to pay £130 million in back taxes.
As for the latest developments, the Russian regulator, in its ruling, agreed with Yandex’s assertion that Google is indeed responsible for throttling its competitors (including Yandex) through restrictive trade practices. That being the case, the FAS instructed the U.S. company to amend the terms of its contract with device-makers in a way that will allow other firms to compete on even terms with the U.S. tech giant. As for the penalty imposed on Google, FAS says that it arrived at the amount based on Google’s Play Store revenues from Russia in 2014. The company will be required to pay up the full amount within a period of sixty days. Google is yet to comment on the judgment, although it has released a statement saying that it will study the decision before deciding on its future course of action.
Meanwhile, Google’s problems with antitrust regulators are not restricted to Russia alone. The company has already had multiple well-publicized run-ins with the EU Competition Commission and its uncompromising leader, Ms. Margrethe Vestager. The company is currently facing almost identical charges in the European Union and allegations that its contracts with various Android OEMs violate the region’s tough antitrust regulations are nothing new to the company. However, in what must be infinitely more disconcerting for Google, the company is currently also under investigation by the U.S. FTC (Federal Trade Commission), which, earlier this year, announced that it is investigating allegations that the company is abusing its market dominance with Android.