Thursday

29th Jun 2017

EU rejects Apple chief's political bias jibe

The EU's most powerful business regulator has dismissed accusations of political bias from Apple chief Tim Cook.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Cook described the EU decision that Apple must pay €13bn in back taxes as "total political crap".

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“They just picked a number from I don’t know where. In the year that the commission says we paid that tax figure, we actually paid $400m. We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year," he said.

Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager imposed the sanction on Apple earlier this week in a case that has riled both US and Irish authorities.

She rebuffed Cook's assertion and said the case against Apple had been based on facts.

"The enforcement part of the competition portfolio does not really fit into any political picture," she told reporters in Brussels.

She also defended earlier statements on Apple's low tax rate.

Vestager had said Apple's tax rate on its profits was only 0.05 percent in 2011 and 0.005 percent in 2014.

Cook had also dismissed those figures.

But Vestager said the numbers were obtained from Apple itself, while others dating from 2011 came from US hearings.

"There are very little if any figures in the public domain," she said.

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The commission opens an inquiry into tax rulings that allowed a partly state-owned gas company to avoid tax in Luxembourg, as the EU competition chief visits the US amid the Apple row.

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EU seeks novel ways to plug a Brexit-based budget hole of up to €11 billion, but income from fines, such as the one on Google, cannot be relied on.

Focus

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At a summit in Brussels, EU and Chinese leaders will attempt to deepen ties on trade and climate as US president Trump plans to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

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