Europe's investigation of Apple's taxes actually began in the US (AAPL)

The European Union's probe into Apple's taxes was actually triggered by the US Senate.

That's according to EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, who spoke at a panel at Columbia University Wednesday.

Back in 2013, a US Senate committee said Apple had quietly negotiated a special corporate tax rate of 2% or less in Ireland. While they didn't accuse Apple of breaking any laws, they had called out the "gimmicks" and "schemes" that allowed the company to get sweetheart deals.

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