The head of technology giant Apple sharply criticized the European Commission for its attempt to get the company to repay billions of euros for Irish tax benefits, dismissing the findings as "political crap" in an interview published Thursday.
The commission, the European Union's executive, earlier this week accused Dublin of having "substantially and artificially" lowered Apple's tax bill in Ireland since 1991, giving the company an unfair competitive advantage.
The commission ordered Ireland to recover up to 13 billion euros (14 billion dollars) from Apple. But both the Irish government and the US company have announced plans to appeal.
"No one did anything wrong here and we need to stand together," Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, said in an interview with the Irish Independent newspaper. "Ireland is being picked on and this is unacceptable."
Cook rejected EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager's assertion that Apple paid an effective corporate tax rate of just 0.005 per cent in 2014.
"It's total political crap," he said.
"They just picked a number from I don't know where. In the year that the commission says we paid that tax figure, we actually paid 400 million dollars," he added. "We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year."
The company employs close to 6,000 people around the Irish city of Cork - more than 1 per cent of the local population.
The Apple case is one of several high-profile probes the commission has launched into tax deals granted by EU member states to multinationals based in the United States.
Some critics accuse the EU of cracking down on US companies to protect its own industry, a suggestion that the commission has rejected.