By Nandita Bose
MUMBAI, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp chief Howard Schultz defended his company's UK tax payments and said he would be happy to co-operate with any official probe of the British unit's finances.
Speaking on Friday at the opening of the first Starbucks branch in India, Schultz denied shifting profits out of the UK unit into tax havens. "We don't pay income tax because we are not making money there," he told Reuters.
Starbucks has been the target of media and political criticism in the UK this week after Reuters reported its British unit had paid no corporate income tax in the past three years despite notching up sales of 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion).
The Reuters report found the company had consistently told investors the UK unit was performing strongly over recent years.
British Member of Parliament George Mudie, who chairs a committee of lawmakers which scrutinises the UK tax authority Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said he would like to have executives from Starbucks answer questions to the committee.
Several MPs have said HMRC should investigate the company's affairs.
"We will absolutely comply with any government enquiry with transparency and respect," Schultz said.