Belfast Telegraph

View from Dublin: We must get a move on with claiming Apple's €13bn

By Richard Curran

Ireland Inc has taken quite a reputational hit over the Apple tax debacle and the European Commission finding that the tech giant should pay us €13bn (£11.6bn) in back taxes.

That was bad enough. Even more surprising is that the reputational damage is rumbling on. An initial target for appointing managers to handle the €13bn until the outcome of European Court challenge, has not been met.

After indicating that somebody would be in place by mid-November, it still hasn't happened and the money has still not been collected.

The Government says it was never a deadline but just a guideline time frame. One can only surmise that the lawyers are poring all over this one.

Ordinarily, you pay the tax, and then if the appeal is successful, you get the money back. But Ireland and Apple are in new territory here because neither believes the money is actually owed.

And there is the fact that €13bn is a large chunk of change. Once paid over, who owns the money? Who will receive any investment return on it? Who pays the management fees, etc? I hear the most tricky question exercising minds is who carries the risk if the money is lost? Let's say the €13bn is invested in some corporate bonds and the company goes bust.

Apple might want the Government to carry the risk in the event the court case goes their way and the money is to be repaid back to the company a few years down the road.

What if Ireland goes bust? We did before. The €13bn could be viewed as a contingent liability of the Irish state. Would Apple seek some kind of security, mortgage or charge over the €13bn and if so, secured on what?

Lawyers could come up with 50 different nightmare scenarios for Apple and the Government on this one without any difficulty.

Yet, the reality should be pretty straightforward. Right now, Apple owes us the money. They should pay it and it is our money to do with as we wish. We get the investment return and we pay the management fees.

If we lose some of it, all of it, or go bust, and Apple wins the European Court case, then Apple would be a standard creditor of the Irish State. It is only six weeks of Apple profits. It is time to get on with it.

*******

When it comes to an IFSC post-Brexit jobs bonanza, we may have to mind the 'stop-gap'.

Big US banks are drawing up 'stop gap' Brexit plans, to avoid moving some jobs out of London once the UK leaves the EU.

Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Bank of America are among the banks described by the Financial Times as planning to use London branches of their EU subsidiaries to smooth the process of building new headquarters on the Continent.

The plan is this. Currently, US banks use London operations to 'passport' their services across the rest of the EU. A new arrangement would see them reversing that in a way and using London branches of their EU divisions.

This might be a way of employing fewer people in the EU while channelling business through that EU presence to London where a lot of the work would be handled. The EU might have something to say about it as it could end up brass-plating European operations while keeping jobs in London.

Mind you, we couldn't complain. We've had a few brass plates down on the Liffey before.

Belfast Telegraph

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