How to keep track of the billions in penalties the EU is slapping on global companies

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Image: Reuters/Neil Hall
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The European Commission today ruled that tech giant Amazon must pay €250 million ($290 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg because of an illegal deal struck between the two in 2003.

The Amazon finding is the latest in a string of high-profile decisions made by the commission under competition chief Margrethe Vestager. On Vestager’s watch, US tech titans were deemed to be violating European law in a variety of creative ways. For example, there was Apple’s tax arrangement with Ireland, which earned the iPhone maker a record-breaking €13 billion penalty in August last year. Google was found to unfairly favor its own comparison-shopping service in its search results, so it was slapped with a €2.4 billion fine in June.

Having Apple, Amazon, and Google, as well as Starbucks, on the list of law-breakers seems like a shakedown of wealthy American companies—but that’s not quite the whole story. A highlight reel of Vestager’s directorate-general of competition features massive fines levied on Swedish truck makers, Japanese battery manufacturers, and French banks, among many others.

Here are some of the commission’s most noteworthy tax and competition decisions under Vestager over the past two years:

😉 Antitrust or cartel case
💸 Tax shenanigans

💸🇺🇸Amazon, €250 million, Oct. 4, 2017: Back taxes owed from illegal state aid in Luxembourg.

😉🇸🇪 Scania, €880 million, Sept. 27, 2017: Fine for role in a trucks cartel.

😉🇺🇸 Google, €2.4 billion, June 27, 2017: Fine for favoring its Google Shopping price comparison service, abusing its search engine’s dominant position in the market.

😉🇫🇷🇬🇧🇭🇰 Air France-KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and eight other airlines, €776 million, March 17, 2017: Fine for price-fixing cargo services.

😉🇯🇵 Panasonic, Sanyo, and Sony, €166 million, Dec. 12, 2016: Fine for fixing prices of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

😉🇫🇷🇬🇧🇺🇸 Crédit Agricole, HSBC, and JPMorgan Chase, €485 million, Dec. 7, 2016: Fine for colluding on euro interest rate pricing and illegally sharing sensitive information.

💸🇺🇸 Apple, €13 billion, Aug. 30, 2016: Back taxes owed from accepting illegal state aid from Ireland.

😉🇩🇪🇸🇪🇳🇱 MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco, and DAF, €2.9 billion, July 19, 2016: Antitrust fine for colluding on truck pricing and passing the cost of emissions compliance to customers.

💸🇧🇪🇧🇷🇬🇧🇩🇪➕ Anheuser-Busch InBev, BP, BASF, and 32 others, around €500 million, Jan. 11, 2016: Back taxes owed to Belgium for an illegal “excess profit” tax scheme.

💸🇺🇸 Starbucks, around €30 million, Oct. 21, 2015: Back taxes owed from illegal state aid in the Netherlands.

💸🇮🇹 Fiat, around €30 million, Oct. 21, 2015: Back taxes owed from illegal state aid in Luxembourg.