• France's news in English

IMF's Lagarde spends second day in court

AFP/The Local · 24 May 2013, 08:53

Published: 24 May 2013 08:53 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French prosecutors will grill IMF chief Christine Lagarde for a second day after being heard all day by prosecutors who are due to decide whether she should be charged over a state payout to a disgraced tycoon during her time as finance minister.

"See you tomorrow," she told reporters after a long session at the Court of Justice of the Republic.

Criminal charges against Lagarde, 57, would mark the second straight scandal for an IMF chief, after her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn, also from France, resigned in disgrace over an alleged assault on a New York hotel maid.

Despite Lagarde facing the possibility of charges the International Monetary Fund expressed "confidence" in its chief, Lagarde, on Thursday as she appeared in a French court to answer questions about her role in a 2007 payout scandal.

"The executive board has been briefed on that matter, including recently, and continues to express its confidence in the managing director's ability to effectively carry out her duties," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.

Lagarde has also received backing from the French government. Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici told AFP that Lagarde "retains the full confidence of French authorities and myself".

But government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said she thought Lagarde's days at the IMF were over if she were charged.

Her court appearance comes after Lagarde, the first woman to run an organisation considered the pillar of the international financial system, was named the world's seventh most powerful woman by Forbes magazine.

Known for both her intellectual prowess and elegance, Lagarde smiled as she arrived at the courthouse in an upscale Paris neighbourhood, greeting the several dozen reporters outside with "It's a pleasure to see you again" before entering the building.

The Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), which probes cases of ministerial misconduct, is seeking an explanation of her 2007 handling of a row that resulted in €400 million being paid to Bernard Tapie.

The former politician and controversial business figure went to prison for match-fixing during his time as president of French football club Olympique de Marseille.

Prosecutors working for the CJR suspect he received favourable treatment in return for supporting Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election.

They have suggested Lagarde - who at the time was finance minister - was partly responsible for "numerous anomalies and irregularities" which could lead to charges for complicity in fraud and misappropriation of public funds.

The investigation centres on her 2007 move to ask a panel of judges to arbitrate in a dispute between Tapie and Credit Lyonnais, the collapsed, partly state-owned bank, over his 1993 sale of sports group Adidas.

Story continues below…

Tapie had accused Credit Lyonnais of defrauding him by consciously undervaluing Adidas at the time of the sale and argued that the state, as the former principal shareholder in the bank, should compensate him.

His arguments were upheld by the arbitration panel but critics claimed the state should not have taken the risk of being forced to pay compensation to a convicted criminal who, as he was bankrupt at the time, would not have been able to pursue the case through the courts.

The payment Tapie received enabled him to clear his huge debts and tax liabilities and, according to media reports, left him with 20 million-40 million euros which he has used to relaunch his business career.

Tapie on Thursday said he "is not at all worried.

"When an abritrage is conducted, it is done according to rules," he told Europe 1 radio. "If there had been something questionable, it would have been known a long time ago."

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available