BRUSSELS LOOKS INTO IRISH TAX DEALS - Brussels is probing Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands over their tax deals with multinationals paving the way potentially for a formal investigation into illegal sweeteners, reports The Financial Times.
Europe’s top competition authority has asked the governments to explain their system of tax rulings and give details of assurances given to several specific companies – including Apple and Starbucks – according to people who have seen the request.
The move threatens to open a new front in the global clampdown on tax evasion through enforcing the EU’s state aid rules – a unique regime that bans serious distortions of competition through tax breaks to favoured private groups.
This request, sent to at least three EU countries, represents the opening step of an informal probe and does not mean the European Commission has identified wrongdoing.
But even this preliminary move has rattled officials in some of the capitals targeted. Should the Commission find cause for concern, it will open a formal investigation and start a process that could force the states to recoup all the lost revenues from any unlawful sweetheart deals.
RYANAIR TRYING TO OUT ONLINE CRITICS - Ryanair has outlined to a court in South Africa the steps it is taking around the globe to identify people who are making anonymous critical comments on the internet about its attitude towards safety, reports The Irish Times.
The airline has secured an order forcing African telecoms group Telkom to furnish it with information that might help identify a person who has made internet postings using the tag alwaysflying. The company is also seeking information on a specific IP address in South Africa.
The person has made postings on an internet site called PPRuNe.org, which is used by pilots to discuss matters to do with their work. Ryanair company secretary Juliusz Komorek told the court in an affidavit that one posting falsely portrayed the airline as having an incompetent flying crew and that this could affect the airline’s reputation and business.
The posting read: “I don’t care if it’s wind/ delays/ weather or anything, if you are flying around your destination eating into alternate fuel then you shouldn’t be a pilot. If they were employed at my company I would have fired the lot of them!”
Mr Komorek told the court the airline had no objection to honest, objective and legitimate comment, but would seek the removal of unlawful and wrong statements and seek a public apology.
AER LINGUS TO INTRODUCE FLAT BEDS - Aer Lingus is to introduce flat beds to its business cabins by 2015 as it gears up to re-launch its San Francisco route, according to The Irish Independent.
The airline is due to start flying to San Francisco in April next and the move is part of an upgrade of the airline’s business class offering. Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller told Swiss online publication Aerotelegraph of the plans in a wide-ranging interview.
As part of its 2014 schedule, Aer Lingus is also introducing a new, year-round service from Toronto to Dublin, as well as year-round flights to Shannon from the East Coast of the US.
Earlier Mr Mueller said the expansion in long-haul was positive both for the airline and for the broader economy in terms of business, tourism and employment.
EXPORTERS NEGLECT EMERGING MARKETS - According to The Irish Examiner, the Irish Exporters Association's chief executive John Whelan has said that Irish companies have neglected potentially lucrative markets in Asia in favour of weakening European economies.
The association is holding a conference today ahead of a major trade visit to Malaysia and South East Asia next month.
Mr Whelan says it is now time for exporters to target emerging economies.
"We're thin on the ground in terms of exporters from Ireland and we need to stretch out to these markets," he said. "We do need to, shall we say, assist exporters to look at the markets, test them out, decide which ones are the best for them and to help them establish a foothold in these markets."