A European Parliament committee is holding a public hearing on tax evasion later this month, and has invited Apple to attend.

Apple has declined the invitation, but offered to meet committee members in private …

Reuters reports that the reason Apple doesn’t want to comment publicly is it is afraid of prejudicing its pending appeal against the EU’s ruling that it owes Ireland €13B ($15B) in underpaid tax.

“It is important to ensure public commentary does not prejudice those proceedings,” Claire Thwaites, Apple’s senior director of European government affairs, wrote in the letter […]

“Since the appeal is ongoing and likely to be heard at the General Court in the near future we will not be able to participate in a public hearing on this topic as it could be detrimental to the proceedings at the Court and any potential appeals thereafter,” Thwaites said.

Thwaites goes on to say that Apple has the deepest respect for the committee, and would be happy to meet privately to address any questions it may have.

Although Apple says it remains confident that it will win on appeal, the company has begun making payments to an escrow account that will hold the money until the appeals process is exhausted one way or the other. The Irish government has also appealed.

It should be noted that Apple has not at any point been accused of tax evasion, which is illegal, but rather tax avoidance, which is legal. In the Irish case, it was the government which broke the law by offering a sweetheart tax deal to Apple. Apple has, however, employed some complex and aggressive tax-avoidance schemes.

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