European antitrust officials are preparing to hit Google with a potentially record fine by the end of August over some of the Silicon Valley giant’s search services, according to two people with direct knowledge of the case.
Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition chief, is in the final stages of ruling on the case, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly. Any financial penalty is expected to be larger than the fine of 1.06 billion euros, now about $1.2 billion, then about $1.4 billion — at the time the highest ever — that Intel was forced to fork out for antitrust abuses in Europe in 2009.
As well as the fine, European officials could also force Google to alter how it operates in the region, and potentially elsewhere, to give rivals a greater ability to compete.
The case, linked to claims that Google diverted traffic from competitors’ services to favor its own comparison shopping site, is one of three investigations that the European Union’s executive arm has opened against the search giant. The other two involve Android, the company’s mobile software, and some of Google’s advertising products.