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IMF’s Lagarde to stand trial

IMF’s Lagarde to stand trial

By Staff Writer - July 24, 2016

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

Head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, will stand trial over a state payout of more than €400 million to the French tycoon and newspaper owner Bernard Tapie, an appeals court in Paris ruled last week. She has been charged with negligence over the award in 2008 when she was France’s economy minister.

Ms Lagarde is now expected to appear before a special court for government ministers. Mr Tapie, who has himself been a senior minister, owner of Olympic Marseille football club, and a serial entrepreneur, is one of the main investors in local French-language dailies Nice-Matin and its sister publication Monaco-Matin.

The case stems from Mr Tapie’s sale of his majority stake in the sports equipment company, Adidas, which was handled by the state-owned bank, Credit Lyonnais. Ms Lagarde was responsible for the rare decision to appoint an arbitration panel, rather than allowing the courts to decide on the dispute. She served as economy minister when President Nicolas Sarkozy was in office. Mr Tapie was a supporter of Mr Sarkozy and there were allegations this may have played a role in her decision.

Ms Lagarde’s lawyer, Patrick Maisonneuve, said he was convinced that the trial would show she was innocent. The IMF stated that the executive board continues to express confidence in her ability to carry out her duties and she was given a second five-year term as IMF managing director in January.

Ms Lagarde, who earns €500,000 annually tax-free from her IMF role, famously remarked during the height of the Greek crisis that Greeks should pay their taxes.

Mr Tapie is appealing against a court decision to dismiss the settlement at the heart of the case, in which case he would have to repay €404 million to the French state.

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