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EU antitrust chief rejects U.S. criticism of Apple, Starbucks tax cases

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe’s antitrust chief signalled on Monday her determination to go after Apple, Starbucks and McDonald’s over their tax deals in the bloc, dismissing U.S. criticism of her crackdown on the companies.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s comments come three days after senior U.S. Treasury official Robert Stack met her team in the latest lobbying effort against her clampdown on tax deals involving U.S. as well as EU companies.

Vestager, who was not at the meeting, indicated she had not been swayed by Stack’s arguments, similar to those made to a Senate committee last December.

“It is the same argument as we have heard before,” she told reporters on the sidelines of a conference organised by the Global Competition Law Centre.

“Just as it is an obvious right for U.S. tax authorities to tax revenues when they are repatriated, it is also for European tax authorities to tax money that is made in the member states.”

All the companies have denied wrongdoing. While Starbucks was told to pay up to 30 million euros in back taxes to the Netherlands in October last year, Apple could end up with a bigger bill to the Irish. A decision is likely to come in the spring.

Amazon is also in the EU crosshairs over its Luxembourg tax deal.

Vestager also said it was too early to decide whether to investigate Google’s 130 million pound ($185.6 million) settlement with British tax authorities. The Scottish National Party has formally complained about it to the European Commission.

The Internet company said it complied with all UK tax rules.

($1 = 0.7006 pounds)

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