Millennium Post

IMF chief Lagarde found guilty in French tycoon payout case

IMF head Christine Lagarde on Monday was found guilty of negligence by a French court over a massive payout to a tycoon when she was finance minister, but will not be fined or face prison.

Lagarde was found to be at fault for failing to challenge a 404-million-euro (USD 422 million) compensation payout to businessman Bernard Tapie over the sale of the Adidas sports brand to Credit Lyonnais bank.

Lagarde, who was France’s finance minister between 2007 and 2011, was not in the Paris court to hear the decision because she is in Washington, where the International Monetary Fund is based, her lawyer said.

The 60-year-old was tried by the Court of Justice of the Republic, a tribunal staffed by judges and members of parliament that hears cases against French ministers accused of wrongdoing in office.

Earlier, Lagarde argued in court on Friday that she had acted in good faith in approving the 404-million-euro ($ 422 million) payment to Tapie to settle the row.

“In this case, as in all other cases, I acted according to trust and with the knowledge of the facts and my sole aim was to defend the general interest,” the 60-year-old former corporate lawyer had said.

Lagarde choked back tears on Friday as she had said the trial had put her family through a “testing” time.

The prosecutor had made it clear that he was opposed to convicting Lagarde, judging the evidence to support the charge of negligence too flimsy. The prosecutor’s office had advised against bringing the case to trial. Lagarde waved through the settlement to Tapie in 2008.

As IMF chief Lagarde has been a key player in bailout negotiations for Greece and has also worked to reform the US- and Europe-dominated institution to reflect China’s growing global leverage.

Lagarde succeeded her disgraced compatriot Dominique Strauss-Kahn as IMF managing director after he resigned to fight sexual assault charges.

Another former IMF head, Rodrigo Rato of Spain, is currently standing trial on charges of misusing 
funds when he was head of Spanish lender Bankia. 
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