Apple wanted CSO to keep information confidential

Apple approached the CSO expressing concerns that information it provided the statistics agency should remain confidential in compiling GDP figures, the Irish Examiner understands.

Apple wanted CSO to keep information confidential

The communication was made during the summer, when the CSO reported revised numbers that showed the economy had surged 26.3% in 2015. The numbers gave rise to the infamous jibe of “leprechaun economics” by economist Paul Krugman.

The surge was due to the transfers of intellectual property from overseas onto the balance sheets in Ireland by one or more unidentified multinationals which were rearranging their global tax arrangements. The numbers were compiled under Eurostat rules, but the activities of multinationals make it difficult to get a clear picture of what is happening to the underlying economy here.

Citing confidentiality clauses, the CSO refused to identify the multinationals involved, but many say Apple was the main driver. By communicating with the CSO, it appears Apple thought it would be identified as the main driver behind the transfers.

In response to a query by the Irish Examiner that Apple approached the CSO reminding it of confidentiality requirements, the agency said it “does not comment on any issues concerning individual persons or companies”.

An Apple spokesman in the UK had not responded to a query by the time of going to press last night.

Analysts said GDP figures for the third quarter, released yesterday, overstate the strength of the economy, and that concerns persist about Brexit.

The figures showed the economy leaped 4% in the three months to the end of September from the previous three months.

The “data are consistent with other indicators that suggest the Irish economy is posting solid growth. However, the recorded 4% quarter-on-quarter increase in GDP, which would translate to an annualised jump of 17%, dramatically overstates the current momentum of the Irish economy as experienced by most households and businesses,” said Austin Hughes, chief economist at KBC Bank Ireland.

“It seems fairly clear that it was Apple,” said Mr Hughes, referring to the identity of the multinational which drove the transfers of intellectual property.

Economist Jim Power said most people accepted Apple was the company that transferred huge amounts of intellectual property last year.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the CSO figures show that the immediate impact from Brexit has been more benign than initially anticipated. “However, we cannot be complacent.”

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