IMF Chief Faces Trial in Case Dating to Time as French Finance Minister

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

I.M.F. Chief Faces Trial in Case Dating to Time as French Finance Minister.

PARIS — A special French court on Thursday ordered Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, to stand trial on charges of negligence that date back to when she served as France’s finance minister, the second time in five years that a top French I.M.F. official has faced legal scrutiny. The move on Thursday by France’s Court of Justice of the Republic, responsible for investigating current and former ministers, is linked to a decision by Lagarde to award millions in public funds to a businessman, Bernard Tapie, in 2007. Lagarde has been accused of intervening in a court dispute between French tycoon Bernard Tapie and the bank Credit Lyonnais in 2007, when she was the finance minister for President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Tapie had been a shareholder in the sporting goods firm Adidas, but sold his shares in 1993 in order to become a cabinet minister in Francois Mitterrand’s Socialist government. Lagarde’s lawyer has been quoted in the French media as saying that he will recommend that she appeal the special court’s decision to put her on trial.

The payment from the government’s coffers was a problem because Tapie was friends with France’s then-president Nicolas Sarkozy; some alleged that the thing whiffed of preferential treatment, per France24: Critics argue that the state should not have paid compensation to a convicted criminal who was bankrupt at the time and would not have been able to pursue the case in court. Members of the Socialist party accused the arbitration panel of having ruled in favor of Tapie because he was a traditional supporter of the center-left who had switched his allegiance to Sarkozy ahead the 2007 presidential election. “It’s incomprehensible,” Lagarde’s lawyer, Yves Repiquet, told iTele about Thursday’s court decision, adding that she would appeal against the decision. The IMF, which brought in Lagarde in 2011 as a replacement for Dominique Strauss-Kahn after his tenure was derailed by sexual-assault allegations, last year said that it would be standing by Lagarde during the scandal, and she has already appealed the court decision, according to AP. In a statement Thursday, the board expressed “confidence” in her “ability to effectively carry out her duties.” “This is a big deal,” said Christopher Mesnooh, a partner at the legal firm of Field Fisher Waterhouse in Paris. “She’s one of the world’s most influential women.

Lagarde, has repeatedly defended her role in the case, a long-running French legal soap opera that has lasted more than 20 years and exposed ties between Mr. Sarkozy’s presidential campaign that same year, had accused Crédit Lyonnais in 1993 of bilking him of vast sums when it oversaw the sale of his stake in Adidas. She was eventually investigated for “abuse of authority” for failing to appeal the payout, but that charge was dropped and she is now being charged with the lesser “negligence by a governmental official,” which is punishable by one year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros ($16,400).

In a 1999 case Laurent Fabius, who is currently France’s foreign minister, was tried along with two other ministers for manslaughter after a branch of the Health Ministry was found to have been giving blood transfusions contaminated with H.I.V. to hemophiliacs. Lagarde was “presumed innocent.” He added that he saw no reason why she would need to stand back from the I.M.F. helm. “The case had been dragging on for 20 years,” said Mr.

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