Friday 18 August 2017

TD anger after Cook refuses to be quizzed by Dáil committee

Apple chief executive Tim Cook. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Apple chief executive Tim Cook. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Cormac McQuinn, Colm Kelpie and Louise Kelly

Apple chief executive Tim Cook's refusal to be quizzed by an Oireachtas Committee on the European Commission's state aid ruling has been met with disappointment and anger among TDs.

The Finance Committee is set to examine the European decision last summer that Apple's previous tax arrangements in Ireland amounted to illegal state aid.

Committee chairman John McGuinness said he would have expected Mr Cook or another representative to give the "other side" of the story, while Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said he was "disappointed and angry" at the Apple chief's decision not to attend.

Both the government and Apple reject the Commission ruling - including its demand that the State seek around €13bn in back taxes - and are appealing in a European court.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is to appear at the committee later this month to be grilled on the decision.

Apple executive Claire Twaites wrote to the Finance Committee to tell them Mr Cook would be declining the invitation. She said the European decision is "a complex and challenging issue, and one on which we are receiving ongoing legal counsel". She added: "Given the sensitive nature of the investigation and the timing, we have been advised not to undertake any other direct activities, which could potentially prejudice future outcomes. It is on this basis that we are unable to appear before the Committee on this occasion."

Mr McGuinness said he was disappointed by the decision given Apple's presence here as an employer of 6,000 people. He said the committee will contact Apple again to see if another representative could attend. "We feel that it is important that the public would hear both sides of the story," Mr McGuinness said.

Asked about criticism of Mr Cook's rejection of the invitation, an Apple spokeswoman said she had "nothing to add to the letter".

Fine Gael TD Peter Burke said: "I would accept it's a very sensitive matter. I would understand why he [Mr Cook] can't appear before the committee." He insisted that Apple complied with Irish tax law and "did not get a secret deal with the Revenue Commissioners". He said the State "has to robustly fight" the Commission's ruling.

Irish Independent

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