Google Inc. shareholders may be eligible to join a class action lawsuit stemming from the company’s recent $500 million settlement with the U.S. government over internet advertisements for illegal Canadian pharmacies sold through its AdWords advertising program. Google shareholder lawsuits allege the company and its officers breached their fiduciary duty by facilitating illegal imports of prescription drugs through these ad sales, leading to the $500 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
If you were a Google stock shareholder prior to August 24, 2011, you may be entitled to compensation. Shareholder litigation attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP, LLP are offering free lawsuit evaluations to Google investor-YOURLAWYER (s. To learn how our Google shareholder lawyers can help you recover your losses we urge you to contact us today by completing our online form or call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
Google Adwords Sales to Illegal Canadian Pharmacies
On August 24, 2011, Google Inc. agreed to forfeit $500 million for allowing online Canadian pharmacies to place advertisements through its AdWords program targeting consumers in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the forfeiture, one of the largest ever in the United States, represented the gross revenue received by Google as a result of Canadian pharmacies advertising through the AdWords program.
Because of Google’s sale of these internet ads, many U.S. consumers then went on to import prescription drugs from Canada, which the Justice Department said “is almost always unlawful.” Even worse, the pharmacies often imported drugs from other countries with scant regulation. As a result, U.S. consumers may have purchased drugs that were tainted, mislabeled or fake.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors found internal emails and documents that, they say, show Google co-founder and chief executive, Larry Page, was aware of the allegedly illegal ad sales. Under the terms of the $500 million settlement, those emails were not released, avoiding the possibility of disclosure at trial. “Larry Page knew what was going on,” Peter Neronha, the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney who led the probe, said in an interview with the Journal. “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.”
According to the Journal, in the years prior to the investigation, senior Google executives testified repeatedly in Congress that the company had “rigorous” controls to stop unlawful advertisements. But Neronha told the Journal that those efforts amounted to “window-dressing,” and allowed Google to continue earning revenues from the illegal ads. Letters reviewed by the Journal also show that on two occasions – in 2003 and 2008 – U.S. drug regulators warned the company that the importation of drugs from abroad was illegal. But the Justice Department contends Google allowed the practice to continue until 2009, when it learned of the federal probe.
“Although Google took steps to block pharmacies in countries other than Canada from advertising in the U.S. through AdWords, they continued to allow Canadian pharmacy advertisers to target consumers in the United States,” a Justice Department statement said.