Apple CEO Cook meets Vestager amid tax probe

31 January 2017 9:56am

21 January 2016.  Lewis Crofts and Mari Eccles

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook met Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, today as a probe continues into the iPhone maker’s tax arrangements in Ireland.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed the “private meeting” took place in Brussels. It’s understood to have touched on the tax investigation.

Cook also met European Parliament President Martin Schulz this morning. A press officer for Schulz said yesterday that the meeting would deal with innovation and the EU’s single market and “nothing specific concerning the company.”

The European Commission is conducting a high-profile investigation into Apple’s tax arrangements with the Irish government. The regulator suspects the dealings have led to Apple paying less tax — a move that might amount to illegal state support under EU law.

In November, the commission sought fresh information in the probe, delaying a final decision at least until elections have taken place in Ireland, according to its Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

The vote must be held before April 11, but the country’s Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, told CNBC in Davos, Switzerland today that the elections will take place “in a few weeks’ time.”

The EU questions are said to have gone beyond mere requests additional data, addressing fundamental issues in the investigation.

This week, the European Parliament also lent its voice to the scrutiny of fiscal sweeteners.

The assembly passed a resolution saying that any funds recovered from companies found to have received tax sweeteners should go into the EU budget. Under state-aid rules, governments merely recover the funds from companies and retain the sums.

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