Indictment Likely for Google Officials as Italy Wraps Up Probe

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By Eric J. Lyman

March 1 — Italian prosecutors said they closed their investigation into possible criminal charges for five Google Inc. officials on allegations the company underpaid its Italian tax bill by 227 million euros ($248 million), likely setting the table for a formal indictment of the officials.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet giant, which is part of Alphabet Inc., has denied wrongdoing in the case, which charges that the company didn't pay 200 million euros in royalty taxes and failed to declare 100 million euros in income from Italian operations, a figure that would have been taxed at the corporate rate of 27.5 percent .

The close of the investigation is an administrative step, but legal experts told Bloomberg BNA that because it was closed rather than dismissed it would probably be followed by a formal indictment.

In Italy, it isn't possible to conduct a criminal investigation into alleged wrongdoing by a company or other entity; the inquiry must focus on specific individuals. So far, the individuals haven't been named, although it has been revealed that the five include two former presidents of Google Italia, two members of the Google Italia board and the legal counsel for Google Ireland, the parent company for Google Italia.

If there is an indictment of the officials—likely to take place in the coming days—they will be identified by name.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric J. Lyman in Rome at

To contact the editor on this story: Molly Moses at