IMF boss Lagarde to go on trial in France
INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde will go on trial in France in December over a massive state payout to tycoon Bernard Tapie when she was finance minister, the court hearing the case announced.
Ms Lagarde, 60, will be tried for negligence by the Court of Justice, a tribunal that hears cases against ministers accused of wrongdoing in the discharge of their duties.
The IMF boss, who has repeatedly protested her innocence, faces up to a year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros (US$16,850) if found guilty.
The case threatens to overshadow Ms Lagarde’s otherwise stellar career, which has seen the former corporate lawyer progress from a top firm to the French finance ministry and her current role as one of the world’s most powerful women.
It threatens the credibility of the Washington-based IMF, whose last three managing directors faced trial.
The accusations stem from Ms Lagarde’s handling of a dispute with Mr Tapie, a colourful businessman and former minister who claimed a state bank defrauded him in its sale of sportswear giant Adidas.
Mr Tapie owned Adidas between 1990 and 1993 but lost control of it after he went bankrupt. He also owned the Marseille football team.
On becoming finance minister in 2007 under the newly elected president Nicolas Sarkozy, Ms Lagarde ordered that Mr Tapie’s longrunning battle with the state be resolved by arbitration.
The decision was hugely costly, with Mr Tapie initially walking away with a staggering 404 million euros ($445 million) in compensation in 2008. After a lengthy court battle, he has since been ordered to repay it.
Investigators suspect the arbitration process was rigged in favour of Mr Tapie, who had supported Mr Sarkozy in his 2007 election campaign. –