∞ Google forfeits half a billion dollars in illegal drug ad money

The Department of Justice on Wednesday announced that Google has agreed to forfeit $500 million in online ad revenue generated through AdWords advertisements for online Canadian pharmacies.

[ad#Google Adsense 300×250 in story]DoJ says that the ads were illegal – designed to facilitate the “unlawful importation of controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs into the United States.” The shipment of such drugs into the U.S. violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, according to the department.

Google was on notice to stop doing so as early as 2003, but didn’t stop until 2009, once it became aware of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office and an FDA task force.

“The investigation of Google had its origins in a separate, multimillion dollar financial fraud investigation unrelated to Google, the main target of which fled to Mexico,” reported the Department. “While a fugitive, he began to advertise the unlawful sale of drugs through Google’s AdWords program.”

After the fugitive was captured and returned to the U.S., he cooperated with Federal officials and turned evidence that resulted in the successful results of the investigation.

Shameful, on Google’s part.

[Hat tip: Daring Fireball]