Apple CEO Tim Cook has claimed that the European Commission got its sums wrong in the investigation into the company's tax practices in Ireland, and has insisted that the firm pays its taxes lawfully and in full.
Cook was speaking in an interview with the Irish Independent just days after the EC demanded that Apple pay the Irish government some €13bn in back taxes.
The EC has said that the payments were avoided as part of a subsidy for Apple from the Irish government, provided as an inducement to persuade the company to invest in the country.
The demand followed a two-year investigation, which concluded that the level of tax that Apple was paying in the Irish Republic, where its European Union HQ is located and through which EU sales are channelled, amounted to illegal state aid.
But Cook, formerly Apple's chief financial officer, described the demand as "maddening" and "total political crap" in the interview, claiming that the EU is picking on Apple and that the company has done nothing wrong.
Nevertheless, he backtracked somewhat on suggestions that the judgement could damage investment in the EU. He pledged to continue the company's investments in its long-established corporate base in Cork in the south of Ireland, and will work with the Irish government, which also opposes the ruling, to appeal against the decision.
"They just picked a number from I don't know where. In the year that the EC says we paid that tax figure, we actually paid $400m. We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year," Cook told the newspaper.
"I have no idea where the number came from. Here is the truth, in that year we paid $400m to Ireland and that was based on the statutory rate of 12.5 per cent."
Cook explained that in 1998, soon after Jobs returned and Cook was appointed, the company planned to close the Cork facility in a bid to save money, as the company was heading for bankruptcy "probably within weeks".
Despite the suggestion made earlier in the week that the ruling might damage investment in the EU, Cook was keen to assert that the company will continue investing in Ireland.
"We are completely committed to Ireland. We view the team there as world-class. They do such incredible work for Apple and we're moving forward with the planned investments," he said.
Apple has also enlisted a valuable ally in its fight against the EC. Shy and retiring Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary told the Irish Independent that the Irish government should "write a letter to the EU telling them to fuck off".
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