The Coca-Cola Company appoints former U.S. federal judge as counsellor

Global beverage maker, The Coca-Cola Company, has announced the appointment of J. Michael Luttig as the counselor and special advisor to its board of directors.

According to the statement made available on the company’s website, “Judge Luttig will advise the company and its board of directors on tax matters, with particular focus on the company’s ongoing litigation with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

“The company intends to vigorously defend its position and consider all avenues, including appealing any ultimate decision,” the statement added.

Recall that the US Tax Court has ruled that the US parent company of Coca-Cola had routed too much profit to its foreign operations in a profit split arrangement.

Justifying the company’s choice, James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, noted that Luttig’s legal and political experience informed the company’s decision to seek his counsel.

“As a former federal judge, long time corporate general counsel, and U.S. Department of Justice and White House official, Judge Luttig has unrivalled experience with complex legal matters, Judge Luttig will provide counsel to our company as we continue to vigorously defend our position in the litigation with the Internal Revenue Service. His perspective will be invaluable on the company’s pending tax matter.”

Reacting to his appointment, Judge Luttig said: “I am honoured to advise The Coca-Cola Company, an American icon.”

Showing a glimpse of what is to come, Luttig noted: “For 20 years, The Coca-Cola Company reported U.S. taxable income from its non-U.S. operations under a methodology agreed to by the IRS and repeatedly audited and approved by the IRS. In an abrupt departure from its established position long after the tax years in question, the IRS reversed its position, disapproved that approved methodology, required a new tax calculation methodology, and now seeks to impose a retroactive tax increase on the company for past tax years.”

He has over 15 years of experience on the legal bench, served as assistant counsel to president from 1981 to 1982, and has served as counsellor and senior advisor to the CEO and board of directors of the Boeing company. He is an alumnus of Washington University, Lee University and University of Virginia.


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