NTMA tasked with finding escrow agent for Apple State aid money

The Government is to set up an escrow fund in relation to recovering State aid from tech giant Apple.

This is to be done through a procurement process overseen by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).

An escrow fund is a means of ring-fencing money so it cannot be used until an issue is resolved.

In a statement, the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says: "The Government is fully committed to ensuring that recovery of the Apple state aid takes place without delay and has committed significant resources to ensuring this is achieved, notwithstanding the appeal lodged in 2016.

"The recovery amount will be paid into an escrow fund with final release when there has been a final determination in the European Courts over the validity of the European Commission's decision.

"Given the scale and bespoke nature of such a fund, the precise terms are still being negotiated and are subject to confidential and commercially sensitive deliberations."

Minister Donohoe says he and Apple will appoint an escrow agent "to hold and administer the escrow fund."

The size of the fund has yet to be confirmed, but it could be between €13bn and €15bn - including interest.

The fund will also see the appointment of one or more investment managers - for which a separate tender process will be set up.

The department say further information will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Mr Donohoe adds: "Work has long been on-going to ensure that the State complies with its recovery obligations.

"With the launch of this public procurement process for the appointment of an escrow agent/custodian, I welcome the significant progress being made and I look forward to the completion of the recovery process."

It is estimated the EU procurement process will take approximately five months.

The Government has previously said it does not accept the European Commission's analysis, which claimed Ireland granted undue tax benefits to Apple.

This is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses.

The Department of Finance say Ireland did not give favourable tax treatment to Apple.

"The full amount of tax was paid in this case and no State aid was provided. Ireland does not do deals with taxpayers", it adds.

It lodged an appeal against the finding last year.

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