Last week, it was revealed that Google had to forfeit $500 million for allowing Canadian pharmacies to target US consumers. One such pharmacy tells WebProNews and Google that the U.S. government is taking a "morally wrong" approach with its fine.
As Google pays an enormous $500 million fine for allowing Canadian pharmacies to place ads through AdWords, targeting consumers int he US (as announced by the Department of Justice last week), it appears that Google CEO Larry Page may be narrowly avoiding criminal prosecution.
According to the Wall Street Journal, prosecutors claim to have found emails and documents indicating that Google CEO Larry Page "was aware of the allegedly illicit ad sales." The publication quotes:
"Larry Page knew what was going on," Peter Neronha, the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney who led the probe, said in an interview. "We know it from the investigation. We simply know it from the documents we reviewed, witnesses that we interviewed, that Larry Page knew what was going on."
Mr. Neronha didn't say when the Justice Department believes Mr. Page learned of the matter, though people familiar with the investigation allege it was several years ago. He declined to discuss the content of the emails, citing grand jury secrecy.
That part about not saying whether the DoJ believe Page knew is a key factor. Unsurprisingly, Google isn't talking about it, with a spokesperson quoted as saying, "We have settled and we are moving on."
According to the WSJ, Neronha said there aren't any plans to prosecute Page, but that "they weren't off limits."
Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904787404576532692988751366.html#ixzz1WQjDJu7a
Meanwhile, in another angle to this story, Candian Drug Company Jan Drugs, which claims to have been an advertiser involved in the issue at hand has shared with WebProNews a letter from its president to Google, which I'll simply include here in its entirety:
I am David Janeson, President of Jan Drugs. Jandrugs.com, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is a brick-and -mortar regulated and licensed pharmacy and fills prescriptions for Americans from Canada and other countries. We advertised with Google Adwords, and some small percentage of the money that you are now forfeiting to the U.S. Department of Justice is due to the money we spent to advertise with you. We provide a valuable service to our patients, and Google by allowing us to advertise, helped many Americans obtain the prescriptions they require at prices they can better afford.
Many of our customers first found us through a Google ad. Jan Drugs is blessed to have had over 100,000 American customers order from us over the years. Our customers universally have ordered medicines from us because they were prescribed a prescription drug that they found prohibitively expensive in the US. Jan Drugs is proud that we have helped many peoples lives by helping them find the prescription drugs they need at prices they can afford. Jan Drugs sells medications for conditions including depression, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer and epilepsy. Jan Drugs and it's customers take the position that it is ridiculous to accept that uninsured or underinsured Americans should be expected to pay higher prices than everywhere else in the world.
When Google first cancelled our advertising account we were disappointed. We believed that Google's existing pharmacy verification program should have been strengthened rather than cancelled and that the end of the verification program made the internet a more dangerous place for Americans to find their needed medications. Our pharmacy willingly participated in Google’s chosen certification program, PharmacyChecker, which was required for Jan Drugs to advertise the sale of non-controlled prescription drugs through AdWords to U.S. consumers. Now that we see that Google has paid a very large forfeiture, partly for accepting advertising for companies like Jan Drugs, we understand why you took the position you did.
Jan Drugs believes that access to reliable and affordable medication is a right. We and companies like Jan Drugs have helped millions of Americans save on their prescription medications over the internet in the same way as if they had personally visited us in Canada. Google should be proud of its' previous efforts to make the internet a safer place to purchase medications as millions have benefited and Jan Drugs believes that Google being fined is against the interests of Americans and morally wrong.
Thank you and kind regards,
David Janeson and the Jan Drugs team
A lot of people think the fine is unreasonably high as well. It is one of the largest such forfeitures ever in the US, but the DoJ says it “represents the gross revenue received by Google as a result of Canadian pharmacies advertising through Google’s AdWords program, plus gross revenue made by Canadian pharmacies from their sales to U.S. consumers.”
Surprisingly, Google hasn't posted anything to its Public Policy blog since the DoJ's announcement.