Google and Kroger’s Lengthy Record of Corporate Misconduct Grows, Update to Violation Tracker Reveals

September 28, 2023

Google grey building
Source: Alex Dudar, Unsplash.

The Justice Department is currently conducting the first antitrust trial of the modern internet era, with a suit against Google for its digital advertising practices. In addition to being the default search engine on most electronics, Google punished publishers who sought out alternative products, in alleged violation of antitrust laws. 

Just before the trial began, Google paid a $93 million settlement for violations relating to its location-privacy practices. The tech giant was accused of deceiving users by collecting and storing location data for user profiling and advertising without informed consent. 

This case is included in the latest update to Violation Tracker, along with more than 8,000 other corporate misconduct cases associated with over $8 billion in penalties. These cases come from federal and state agencies as well as selected categories of class action lawsuits.

The database is for many companies the story of recidivism, and Google is no exception: its parent company Alphabet has 38 cases totaling over $1.8 billion in penalties.

Kroger has an even lengthier record than Google of corporate misconduct: our database shows 253 records. This includes a just-added $1.37 billion multistate lawsuit for failing to prevent drug diversion, ignoring signs of prescription abuse, and marketing opioids in ways that downplayed the risks of addiction.

The Violation Tracker update also included major violations of consumer protection, investor protection, environmental, and railroad safety laws.

The largest penalty in our latest update went to Lexington Law and, both operated by major credit repair brands, for $2.7 billion. These companies were accused of violating consumer protection laws by collecting illegal advance fees for credit repair services through telemarketing.

Mirror Trading International Property Limited (MTI) ranked second with its investor protection violation. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission entered into a consent order with the company, finding it liable for fraud in connection with retail foreign currency (forex) transactions, fraud by a commodity pool operator (CPO), registration violations, and failure to comply with CPO regulations. MTI will pay more than $1.7 billion in restitution to defrauded victims.

Violation Tracker now contains more than 573,000 entries dating back to the beginning of 2000. Total monetary penalties exceed $972 billion.