Ireland promises progress in Apple tax recovery in coming weeks

A 3D printed Apple logo is seen in front of a displayed Irish flag in this illustration taken September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland expects to make progress in recovering up to 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in disputed taxes from Apple Inc AAPL.O in the coming weeks, its prime minister said on Tuesday, following EU criticism that Dublin was moving too slowly.

The European Commission ruled in August 2016 that Apple had received unfair tax incentives from Ireland and said last month it was taking Dublin to the European Court of Justice over its delays in recovering the money.

Both Apple and Dublin are appealing the original ruling, saying the iPhone maker’s tax treatment was in line with Irish and European Union law.

“We’ve indicated to them (Apple) that we want the escrow account established and we want funds to be paid into the escrow account without further delay,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told parliament.

“We do not want to be in the situation where the Irish government has to take Apple to court because the European Commission is taking the Irish government to court. I think that message is understood and I’d anticipate progress in the coming weeks.”

The Commission said last month the deadline for Ireland to implement its decision had been Jan. 3 this year and that, until the aid was recovered, the company continued to benefit from an illegal advantage.

Ireland, which described the Commission’s move to take it to court as “extremely regrettable,” said it had been in constant contact with the Commission and Apple for more than a year and was close to setting up an escrow account to hold the funds.

Ireland’s Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe also said at the time that, in addition to work on the escrow account, the government was in “commercially sensitive” talks with Apple about the exact terms of the transfer.

($1 = 0.8516 euros)

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter