French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday accused the United States of abusing its power when it demands multi-billion dollar fines from European companies while shielding its own firms, stoking an increasingly bitter trans-Atlantic dispute. In an interview to a French magazine six months before a presidential election, Hollande said the fines – most recently a possible $14 billion penalty for Germany’s Deutsche Bank fine for selling toxic mortgage-backed securities in the United States – were one reason why he could not support a European free-trade deal with the U.S.
“When the Commission goes after Google or digital giants which do not pay the taxes they should in Europe, America takes offence,” the Socialist leader told L’Obs magazine in a wide-ranging interview.
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“And yet, they quite shamelessly demand 8 billion from BNP or 5 billion to Deutsche Bank,” he said. Hollande’s comments just days after a French parliamentary report criticised the U.S. over its increasingly aggressive use of extraterritorial laws that have cost European companies billions in fines and other settlements.