E.U. Fines Facebook $122 Million for misleading information about WhatsApp acquisition

As part of their regulatory review of the merger, the Facebook (FB, Tech30) told the European Commission in 2014 that they would not be able to match up the existing user profiles with the WhatsApp phone numbers.

Two years later they did exactly the same.

The European Commission said this Thursday that the Facebook staff knew at that time of review that there is a technical possibility.

It is the first time Europe’s antitrust agency fined a company for providing the misleading information about their takeover. But it would not have an impact on the deal, which completed in the October 2014.

Facebook has paid $19 billion for the WhatsApp, by far it is the largest acquisition ever. By using the messaging app’s data, Facebook could target its ads better at the customers thus boosting their profits.

“The decision today sends a clear signal to the companies that they must comply with all the aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide the correct information,” said Margrethe Vestager, EU’s top antitrust official.

The Facebook accepted that they have made an honest mistake.

“We have acted in good faith since our very first interactions with Commission and we have sought to provide an accurate information at every turn,” said the company in a statement.

“The errors we made in our 2014 filings were not intentional and the Commission has confirmed that they did not impact the outcome of the merger review,” it added.

Facebook’s fine is the latest in a series of legal headaches for big U.S. companies in Europe.

Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), Apple (AAPL, Tech30), and Google (GOOG) are facing antitrust, tax avoidance and data protection probes.

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