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Police raid Google France HQ in huge tax dodging inquiry

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Welcome to Google France Reuters/Jacques Brinon/Pool/File Photo

Paris police raided the headquarters of Google in France on Tuesday as part of an investigation into tax fraud that has been running since 2011. And the BNP-Paribas bank has decided to close its subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands tax haven, a left-wing group claimed.

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About 100 tax fraud police, including 25 computer experts, swooped on Google's offices in Paris at 5.00am on Tuesday, to investigate charges of aggravated tax fraud and money-laundering.

In February it emerged that French tax authorities are claiming 1.6 billion euros from the US-based tech giant.

French police raided the Google offices in 2011 as part of an investigation into transfers to its European headquarters in Ireland, which has some of the lowest corporate tax rates in the EU.

Google was given official notification of the current investigation in March 2014.

The company, which is now a subsidiary of the Alphabet group, said that it respects French law and was cooperating with the inquiry.

In January it reached an agreement with British tax authorities to pay 130 million pounds (172 million euros) for tax arrears covering the last 10 years.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin ruled out any such deal in France and said that the sums involved were "much higher" here.

BNP-Paribas pulls out of Cayman Islands

Banking giant BNP-Paribas is to close all its operations in the Cayman Islands, equality campaigners Attac revealed on Tuesday.

A leaked minute from a finance committee meeting said the bank would close "our last branches" in the tax haven, while saying that they did not exist for tax reasons.

The company's 2015 financial report said that it had six subsidiaries there with a 134-million-euro turnover without employing a single employee, Attac says, hailing the move as an "important victory".

BNP-Paribas CEO Jacques d'Estais is to face the French Senate's finance commission investigation into the Panama Papers tax-dodging revelations on Wednesday.

France uncovered a record 21.2 billion euros in tax fraud last year, more than a quarter of the sum coming from tax-dodging big companies.

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