Business Irish

Monday 20 November 2017

Department's €300,000 legal bill in 2015 for Apple tax case

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

The Department of Finance was charged almost €300,000 in legal fees last year to fight the European Commission's state aid investigation involving Apple.

Figures provided by the department show that €151,691 had to be paid to UK barrister Philip Baker, QC.

Smaller amounts of €55,052 and €89,184 were due for work by Irish barristers Aoife Goodman and Maurice G Collins SC, respectively.

In 2014, department legal costs of over €105,000 were accumulated in connection with state aid matters.

Both Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Apple have repeatedly said that the State and company have no case to answer in respect of the state aid investigation.

Mr Noonan has said Ireland would take the case further if Brussels finds against the technology giant.

Brussels has accused Ireland of striking a tax arrangement with Apple that was based on keeping jobs here but which gave the company an advantage that amounted to state aid and went against international guidelines.

In October, the European Commission announced in a separate state aid ruling that tax advantages granted to Fiat in Luxembourg and to Starbucks in The Netherlands were illegal.

A decision on the Apple case has been expected for some time, initially before the end of last year, and more recently, after the general election.

But it is still not clear when an outcome will be reached.

Asked recently when the probe would come to a conclusion, Europe's antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager told reporters: "Don't hold your breath".

In total, the bill amassed by the Department of Finance last year for legal and advisory costs overall came to €3m.

However, €761,922 of this will be repaid, including €671,604 in relation to expenses connected with the banking sector.

Some €700,000 was also paid to the banking giant JP Morgan in relation to the capital raise by Permanent TSB, but this cost was borne by the bailed-out bank itself.

Other costs included €63,748 due to Merc Partners for advice and assistance in the nomination process for the new Governor of the Central Bank.

Trinity professor Philip Lane took over the post from Patrick Honohan late last year.

And €223,725 was paid to William Fry solicitors for legal advice to the Department in relation to IBRC Commission of Investigation.

Irish Independent

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