Debts allegedly ‘owed’ by Google, Meta and TikTok to the Russian government have been removed from state bailiff database
Questions have been raised as to whether tech giants such as Alphabet’s Google, Meta Platforms, and TikTok have resolved their alleged ‘debts’ to the Russian government.
Reuters on Wednesday reported that it has accessed the Russian state bailiffs’ database, and seen that the fines imposed by Russian courts on Google and YouTube, Meta, TikTok and Telegram appear to have been settled, as the companies are no longer registered as debtors in the database.
Multiple Western tech giants have withdraw their services and products from Russia amid punishing Western sanctions, following that country’s illegal and ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Tech firms have also previously been ‘fined’ sums of money for supposed violations of local laws of that pariah nation.
In May 2022 for example Russian bailiffs seized 7.7bn roubles from Google that had been ordered as part of a fine calculated on the basis of the company’s annual turnover – the first time such a fine had been levied in Russia.
Soon after that Google declared its Russian subsidiary bankrupt after Russian authorities seized its main Russian bank account and transferred the funds out of the account, leaving it with no funds to pay contractors or staff.
In October 2023 a Moscow court officially declared the Russian subsidiary of Google bankrupt.
Now Reuters reported that the fines imposed by Russian courts on Google and YouTube, Meta, TikTok and Telegram appear to have been settled as the companies are no longer registered as debtors in the state bailiffs’ database.
But the database still reportedly includes X (formerly Twitter) and Twitch, with fines totalling 51 million roubles ($560,730) and 23 million roubles ($252,879), respectively.
Google, Meta, TikTok and Telegram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
State bailiffs could not immediately be reached, Reuters reported.
This has raised questions as to whether there has been any form of settlement payment made, or whether (the more likely option) that Russia obtained all the funds it could from these entities after local bailiffs seized the Western tech firm assets and banks accounts.
In early March 2022 Russia opened a criminal case against Meta, after the social networking giant said it would temporarily allow some “calls for violence” on Facebook and Instagram, in the context of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
This included calls for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Russian soldiers invading the country.
Meta’s policy move came after multiple reports emerged of gruesome war crimes committed by the Russian military – stoking global public anger against Russia and President Putin.
In October 2022 Meta Platforms was declared a terrorist organisation by the Russian regime.
In November 2023 it was reported that Meta’s spokesman Andy Stone had been placed on a Russian wanted list, according to an online database maintained by Russia’s interior ministry.