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Russia’s Google files for bankruptcy after bank account confiscation

Russia's Google files for bankruptcy after bank account confiscation

May 18 (Reuters) – A spokesman for Russia’s Google Inc said on Wednesday that Google’s Russia subsidiary plans to file for bankruptcy after authorities seized his bank account, making it impossible to continue operations.

Google Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google has been under pressure in Russia for months for failing to remove content Moscow considers illegal and to restrict access to some Russian media on YouTube, but the Kremlin has not yet blocked access to its platforms.

“The seizure of the Google Russia bank account by the Russian authorities made it unacceptable for our office to operate in Russia, including hiring and paying employees residing in Russia, paying suppliers and sellers, and fulfilling other financial obligations,” a Google spokesperson said.

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Google Russia has published a notice of its intent to file for bankruptcy.

A TV channel owned by a Russian businessman under sanctions said in April that debt preparers had seized 1 billion rubles ($15 million) from Google over its failure to regain access to its YouTube account, but this is the first time the US tech giant has announced its bank. . The account as a whole has been taken over. Read more

Google did not immediately confirm whether the confiscation of those funds led to its intent to file for bankruptcy, or whether other seizures had taken place.

The Russian Federal Bailiffs Service database listed two seizures since mid-March, without specifying the amounts, as well as other fines and enforcement fees.

The service confirmed that it had seized the assets and property of Google.

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A memo published in the Russian official register Fedresurs on Wednesday stated that the Google subsidiary was: “Sending a notice with the intent to declare itself insolvent (bankrupt).”

“Since March 22, 2022, it expects to be bankrupt and unable to meet its financial obligations, and demands the payment of severance payments and (or) bonuses to employees who were or were previously employed under an employment contract, and (or) an obligation to make payments,” the note said. obligatory during the specified period.

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Google, which temporarily halted the vast majority of its commercial operations in Russia in the wake of Moscow sending tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24, said its free services, including Search, YouTube, Gmail, Maps, Android and Play, will remain available to Russian users. .

Russia said on Tuesday it had no plans to block YouTube from Google, despite repeated threats and fines, acknowledging that such a move would likely see Russian users suffer, and should therefore be avoided. Read more

Rostelecom (RTKM.MM) CEO Mikhail Osevsky said on Wednesday that Google is operating as usual in the country, including all of its servers, TASS news agency reported.

In December, Russia handed Google 7.2 billion rubles for what Moscow said was a repeated failure to remove content Russia considers illegal, the first revenue-based penalty in this type of case in Russia.

The data of the bailiffs showed that the fine increased by 506 million rubles due to enforcement fees.

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The Spark database of the Interfax news agency of Russian companies showed that the revenue of the Russian subsidiary in 2021 amounted to 134.3 billion rubles.

(1 dollar = 63.9570 rubles)

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Reporting by Reuters. Editing by Eileen Hardcastle, Jay Faulconbridge and David Clarke

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.