EU regulators near end of Apple inquiry, delay Google one

European regulators appear to be wrapping up their investigation of Apple, but their inquiry regarding Google is being stretched out some more.

The Apple investigation, which focuses on the company’s tax practices, is expected to be wrapped up as soon as this month. Apparently with that in mind, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will reportedly meet this week with Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition.

Lew has criticized the EU’s tax investigations, charging that they have unfairly targeted U.S. corporations. In addition to Apple, Starbucks, McDonalds, Amazon, Facebook and Google have drawn scrutiny from regulators in the EU and individual European countries for their tax practices. Vestager has argued that the investigations have been impartial.

The Apple inquiry focuses on whether the low-cost tax structure its benefited from in Ireland amounts to illegal government aid to the company. Some analysts have estimated that its tax arrangements have saved the Apple billions of dollars. The company has denied any wrong-doing, but has previously agreed to pay back taxes in Italy.

Even as the European Apple inquiry appears to be heading to a conclusion, a Google investigation is getting dragged out. European antitrust regulators postponed the deadline by which the company would have to respond to charges that it has abused its control over the Android operating system.

The company now has until September 7 to respond to the allegations, which focus on the company’s alleged efforts to force phone manufacturers who use Android operating system and want access to the Google Play store to also install other Google apps, including its search app and Chrome browser. Previously, Google was supposed to file a response by July 27.

European antitrust regulators have opened up a wide-ranging investigation into the search giant. In addition to focusing on Android, they are also examining Google’s comparison-shopping service and its advertising business.

Photo: The exterior view of Apple Computer headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. (AP/Paul Sakuma)


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