Apple is under investigation in Italy for allegedly hiding more than $1.34bn from local tax authorities, Italian media has reported.

Milan prosecutors have accused the US technology giant of hiding more than $200m in 2010 and nearly $900m in 2011, the magazine L'Espresso said on its website on Wednesday.

Apple's Italian subsidiary is accused of booking some of its profits through Apple Sales International (ASI), an Irish-based subsidiary, thereby reducing its taxable income in Italy, the weekly reported.

There is a global process under way...the focus is shifting towards multi-nationals that are able to lower their tax base through their international operations

Italian tax source

Judicial sources cited by Ansa news agency said investigators had visited the company's Milan offices and two people were being investigated.

The Reuters news agency cited a judicial source as saying the investigation was under way.

The iPhone and iPad maker is the latest prominent corporation to become the target of a tax inquiry in Italy amid a global crackdown aimed at preventing companies such as Google, Amazon and others from avoiding taxes.

In crisis-hit Italy, tax authorities faced with dwindling revenues have become more aggressive with domestic and multinational companies.

In June, fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were handed a 20-month suspended prison sentence and a heavy fine for hiding hundreds of millions of euros from the tax authorities. Both denied any wrongdoing.

"There is a global process under way and the Italian tax authority is one of the most active," said an Italian tax source.

A US Senate investigation in May revealed that Apple structured its operations so that the vast majority of its non-US profits are reported in Ireland, by companies which, through an unusual feature of Irish tax law, are not tax resident in that country.

Source: Agencies