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[PARIS] French police said Thursday they raided the French headquarters of McDonald's and seized documents last week as part of an investigation into tax fraud.
Agents of a special corruption, financial and tax crime unit searched the premises west of Paris on May 18, taking away company files, a police source said.
French authorities suspect McDonald's has been illegally lowering its tax bill by channelling French earnings to Luxembourg, where its European headquarters is based, and where corporate taxes are much lower.
Financial prosecutors opened a preliminary inquiry into McDonald's France at the start of this year, after union representatives filed a legal complaint against the company for organised tax evasion.
Several multinational companies have come under fire for paying extremely low taxes by shifting revenue across borders in an often complex web of financial arrangements.
On Tuesday, French police and two dozen computer experts raided Google's Paris offices, also in a tax fraud probe. The US Internet giant was already suspected of owing 1.6 billion euros (S$2.5 billion) in back taxes.
Authorities in the United States and several European countries have begun cracking down on so-called "tax optimisation" practices thought to rob their coffers of large sources of potential revenue every year.
The European Union has also been investigating "tax rulings" by some member states that benefit multinationals.