Google execs get British parliament grilling

Agence France-Presse

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Google execs get British parliament grilling


Matt Brittin, head of Google Europe, Middle East and Africa is lost for words, struggling to remember his own salary when asked by British MPs

LONDON, United Kingdom – A top Google executive was left struggling for words when he could not remember his own salary at a grilling by British MPs on Thursday, February 11, over the US tech giant’s controversial tax bill.

Matt Brittin, head of Google Europe, Middle East and Africa said he would provide the figure at a later date after Meg Hillier, head of the public accounts scrutiny committee, demanded it four times.

“You don’t know what you get paid?” the lawmaker said.

“Our there, taxpayers, our constituents, are very angry. They live in a different world, clearly, to the world you live in if you can’t even tell us what you are paid,” said the Labour opposition MP.

She accused Brittin of having “tin ears.”

Britain’s tax agency announced last month that Google would pay a £130 million (166 million euro, $187 million) tax settlement for 10 years’ operations in Britain where it makes 11% of its global sales.

Finance minister George Osborne hailed the agreement as a victory.

But there was a barrage of criticism, including from within Prime Minister David Cameron’s own Conservative Party as the announcement coincided with a key tax filing deadline for many Britons.

It later emerged that Google had made profits of £106 million on revenues of £1.18 billion in Britain in the last 18 months alone and the Labour opposition claimed the giant was paying only “3% tax.”

“Do you hear the anger and frustration out there that with these huge figures you settled for a figure of £130 million?” Hillier asked Brittin.

He replied: “I understand the anger and understand that people, when they see reported that we are paying 3% t tax, would be angry. But we’re not. We’re paying 20% tax”.

Tom Hutchinson, Google Inc’s vice-president for finance, told the committee hearing that the £130 million was the largest tax settlement following audit ever paid by Google outside the United States.

The company thought it was “fair”, he said.

Brittin also dismissed British press reports of higher tax payments being demanded of the company in France and Italy, where it has less business.

“They are just statements from politicians asking us to pay more money,” he said.

The European Commission has said it could examine Google’s British tax settlement and has announced plans to stamp out tax avoidance by multi-national corporations as anger against the tech giant has spread to other European countries. –

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