French police raid Paris home of IMF chief

French police on Wednesday raided the Paris home of IMF chief Christine Lagarde, AFP reported. The raid is linked to an investigation into a €285 million arbitration payment made to businessman Bernard Tapie.

French police raid Paris home of IMF chief
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP

French police on Wednesday carried out a raid on the Paris home of IMF chief Christine Lagarde in connection with a probe into her handling of a high-profile scandal when she was France's finance minister.

"Mrs Lagarde has nothing to hide," her lawyer Yves Repiquet told AFP, adding in a statement to Reuters: "These raids will serve to show the truth, and will help clear my client of any criminal liability."

The investigation concerns Lagarde's 2007 decision to order a panel of judges to arbitrate in a dispute between disgraced tycoon Bernard Tapie and the bank Credit Lyonnais, which led to Tapie being awarded €285 million.

Tapie is in infamous figure in French politics after being convicted and jailed in 1997 for football match-fixing. He also has a conviction for tax fraud.

The IMF have refused to comment on the raid.

"As we have said before, it would not be appropriate to comment on a case that has been and is currently before the French judiciary," said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice in a statement.

"Prior to its selection of the Managing Director, however, the IMF's Executive Board discussed this issue and expressed its confidence that Madame Lagarde would be able to effectively carry out her duties as Managing Director," Rice said.

France's Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), which investigates suspected wrong-doing by ministers, first announced it was launching an inquiry into Lagarde's role in the arbitration procedure, in August 2011

In the same month a court document emerged which criticized the arbitration process. It contained "numerous anomalies and irregularities" and says Lagarde appeared to have "given voting instructions to representatives" on a key public body in relation to the payout.

Lagarde has always denied any misconduct. In the past her lawyer, Yves Repiquet, said the case was politically motivated, driven by "suspicion abusively cast on Christine Lagarde by a handful of opposition members of parliament for political ends."

"I have a perfectly clear conscience," Lagarde has said.

At the end of January, police investigators raided the homes of Tapie himself, as well as Lagarde's then ministerial chief of staff Stéphane Richard, who is currently CEO of France Telecom.

It is of-course not the first time an IMF chief has been the subject of a damaging investigation by authorities. Her predecessor and compatriot, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was forced to quit after he was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York.

The raid on the home of the high-profile Lagarde, comes just a day after France's Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac was forced to step down amid allegations he hid assets in a Swiss bank account.

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France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

The French government aims to have its natural gas storage reserves at full capacity by autumn, with European countries bracing for supply cuts from major supplier Russia as the Ukraine war continues, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Thursday

France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

“We are ensuring the complete filling of our storage capacities, aiming to be close to 100 percent by early autumn,” and France will also build a new floating methane terminal to receive more energy supplies by ship, Borne said.

France is much less dependant on Russian gas than its neighbours, and announced earlier this week that it has not received any Russian gas by pipeline since June 15th.

Meanwhile Germany moved closer to rationing natural gas on Thursday as it raised the alert level under an emergency plan after Russia slashed supplies to the country.

“Gas is now a scarce commodity in Germany,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at a press conference.

French PM Borne on Thursday also confirmed that the bouclier tarifaire (price shield) will remain in pace until the end of 2022 – this freezes the price of household gas and limits rises in electricity bills for homes to four percent.