Denis O'Brien: European Commission tax ruling 'picked on' Apple

Businessman accuses Brussels of unfairly targeting US tech giant

Denis O'Brien: European Commission tax ruling 'picked on' Apple

File photo: Mark Lennihan/AP/Press Association Images

Businessman Denis O’Brien has hit out at the European Commission ruling ordering Apple to pay Ireland up to €13 billion in back taxes.

The EU body concluded in a ruling published last month that tax authorities here granted the US firm illegal state aid.

The Irish government has received Dáil approval to challenge the decision, though it must still recover the unpaid tax.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television this evening, Mr O’Brien said he believed Apple "played by the rules".

"Brussels is out of control in terms of the federalism agenda," he said.

The Digicel founder also accused European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager of unfairly targeting the tech giant.

"Vestager just picked on them because they are one of the biggest brands and most valuable companies in the world and said 'we’re going to try something here'," he said.

"I don’t believe it’s going to succeed."

The businessman, whose Communicorp company owns Newstalk, also spoke about his reluctance to invest in EU countries. 

"Europe is in a pretty dangerous place at the moment...

"I think smaller countries are also concerned about giving up a lot of the decision making to Brussels.

"I think the handling, and I have a lot of sympathy for immigrants coming to Europe, the handling of the immigration crisis was a fiasco.

"Europe is not a great place to invest in at the moment. I would single Ireland out. Ireland is the shining light right now.

"We've made a fantastic recovery from the banking crisis that we've had.

"Despite Brexit, I think it really puts attention back on Ireland as a great place to invest because it's the only English-speaking country in Europe and you’ve got a highly trained workforce, and proper governance and rules."