Tuesday 20 March 2018

PwC nets €600,000 in State fees for Apple probe

Apple CEO Tim Cook Picture: AP
Apple CEO Tim Cook Picture: AP
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Consultants PwC has been the biggest single beneficiary of fees from the State in connection with the Apple state-aid investigation.

PwC Belgium has been paid almost €600,000 over the last two years as the Government fights the probe, which found last August that Apple owes back taxes to Ireland of as much as €13bn.

It is understood that the company’s Brussels-based Global Head of Transfer Pricing, Isabel Verlinden, is involved with the case.

The consultancy giant netted a €327,000 payment in 2015 and €268,343 the following year. By the end of last year, €1.85m had been spent by the State on the case since 2014, with the costs shared between the Department of Finance, the Revenue Commissioners, the Attorney General’s Office and the Chief State Solicitor’s Office. 

Ireland has challenged the EU ruling that Apple owes Ireland €13bn in back taxes and has appealed it to the European courts.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is due to address the Oireachtas Finance Committee on Apple next week, as is Finance Minister Michael Noonan and the chair of the Revenue Commissioners.

“Over the past three years, approximately €1.85m has been paid in total, including VAT,” The minister, Mr Noonan said, in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty.

“This includes all legal costs, consultancy fees and other associated costs.”

The bulk of the payments have been made to barristers, with UK barrister Philip Baker QC  netting the most. He has been paid €267,470.

He earned about €49,000 in 2014, almost €152,000 in 2015 and €66,525 last year.

The Government has accused the European Commission of interfering with Ireland’s tax sovereignty and has exceeded its powers in ordering the technology giant to pay €13bn in taxes to the Exchequer.

The Government said that the commission has attempted to “re-write the Irish corporation tax rules” in making its decision.

Mr Noonan has already insisted that the California tech giant was not given any sweetheart tax deals when it opened its base in Cork in 1980.

Apple has also denied any such arrangements are in place at present, or that they existed in the past.

Mr Cook declined an invitation to appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee.

That decision was met with disappointment and anger among TDs.

Apple executive Claire Twaites wrote to the Finance Committee to tell them Mr Cook would be declining the invitation.

She said the European decision is “a complex and challenging issue, and one on which we are receiving ongoing legal counsel”.

Ms Vestager is due to appear before the committee on Tuesday, while Mr Noonan will appear on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly set to move its international iTunes business to Cork from Luxembourg on February 5, according to the AppleInsider website. The international iTunes office has been located in Luxembourg since 2004. Apple received planning permission last August for an expansion at its European HQ in Cork that was to deliver 1,000 jobs.

An Bord Pleanála gave the expansion plan the go ahead after dismissing an appeal against the development by local residents.

Irish Independent

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