May 16 - Google executives have been grilled by British lawmakers investigating its tax affairs and whether it had misled parliament in testimony last year. Ivor Bennett reports
In the hotseat once again. This is the second time Google's been grilled by British MPs over its tax affairs. Only this time it's also accused of misleading Parliament. A Reuters report showed Google HAS employed sales staff in the UK. That's despite Google's Northern Europe boss Matt Brittin previously denying so. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GOOGLE VICE PRESIDENT MATT BRITTIN, SAYING: "I describe very clearly in a number of phrases, four pages of the key quotes that I have here. I described very clearly how we operate and I answered your questions and what the story did was lifted I think three words from that evidence and they then published a story was suggesting we were trying to disguise how we are operating and that is just not true." Google's UK sales are routed through Ireland - an arrangement which shields most of the income from tax. From 2006 to 2011, the company generated 18 billion dollars from UK revenues. Yet it paid just 16 million in taxes - that's less than 0.1 percent. Google insists it's acting within the law. but that's not what MPs think. Committee Chairwoman Margaret Hodge warned of the consequences. (SOUNDBITE) (English) COMMONS PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN, MARGARET HODGE, SAYING: "A person provaricating or giving false evidence can be considered to be in contempt of the House', and that has very serious repercussions. I myself have been approached by a stream of whistleblowers, some of whom we have met and the information we have gleaned from that shows clear discrepancies I am afraid, between the evidence you gave and the reality of what actually happens in Google on the ground." Concerns of rising government debt have made corporate tax avoidance a major issue in the UK. And it's not just Google in the firing line. Starbucks, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon have all come under scrutiny. But like Google, they all claim they're just following the rules.