Technology giant Apple signed a legal agreement with the Irish government today that will allow the recovery of tax breaks deemed illegal by the end of the year.

In October, the European Commission referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice, after it missed a January deadline to recover over €13 billion in tax breaks given to Apple, deemed illegal state aid.

Progress toward recovering the money likely saves Ireland from a second ECJ referral that could result in a fine.

The Irish finance ministry said today it has agreed with Apple on a legal framework to govern the collection and eventual payment of funds into an escrow account, which it called “a significant milestone” toward collecting the money. The ministry said they anticipate full recovery of funds by the end of the third quarter this year.

The agreement sets the groundwork for the collection of money, as the custodian and investment managers for the account can now be appointed, and formal accounts can be opened into which funds will be paid.

The preferred provider of escrow agency and custodian services is Bank of New York Mellon, London Branch, while Amundi, BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited and Goldman Sachs Asset Management International have been selected as preferred providers of investment management services.

In August 2016, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told Apple to reimburse €13 billion, plus interest, ruling that because a tax break given to Apple wasnt available to all companies, it was unfair. Both Apple and Ireland appealed the ruling.

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