• France's news in English

French tycoon Tapie charged with corruption

AFP · 29 Jun 2013, 09:44

Published: 29 Jun 2013 09:44 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

After four days of interrogation in custody, Tapie, 70, was hauled before a magistrate and placed under formal investigation on suspicion of having committed fraud as part of an organised gang.

The charge, which allowed police to use special detention powers normally reserved for suspected terrorists or mafia, relates to a $400-million ($525m) state payout Tapie received in 2008 when Lagarde was France's finance minister.

Lagarde was in charge of the arbitration process that led to the payout and investigators suspect Tapie received preferential treatment in return for his high-profile support for her boss, former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Tapie's lawyer, Herve Temime, said the charges were completely unfounded and claimed his client was confident he would be completely cleared.

"I can assure you there is nothing in the file that shows the arbitration decision was the result of fraud, or of an organised conspiracy," the lawyer said.

Tapie did not appear after the decision. "He has gone to relax, far away from Paris," his lawyer added.

"We are completely calm about these charges which seem to us to have been decided in advance."

The payout to Tapie related to a dispute between the businessman and partly state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais over his 1993 sale of sportswear group adidas.

Tapie claimed that Credit Lyonnais had defrauded him by intentionally undervaluing adidas at the time of the sale and that the state, as the bank's principal shareholder, should compensate him.

Lagarde was responsible for referring the issue to a three-man arbitration panel, which ruled in Tapie's favour.

Her chief of staff at the time, Stephane Richard, a member of the panel, Pierre Estoup, 86, and Jean-Francois Rocchi, have all been recently charged on the same count as Tapie.

Rocchi is the former president of the CDR, an ad-hoc structure created by the state in 1995 to settle with Credit Lyonnais creditors.

Tapie's lawyer then, Maurice Lantourne, was also hit on Friday with the same charge.

The cash pay-out to Tapie, who served a prison sentence for match-fixing during his time as owner of Marseille football club, was hugely controversial at the time.

Story continues below…

Critics said Lagarde should never have taken the risk of the state ending up having to pay compensation to a man who has convictions for fiscal fraud, abuse of company assets and false accounting, as well as match-fixing.

The IMF chief, who inherited the case and the arbitration idea from her predecessor, has defended her decision as the best solution available at the time.

She was questioned for two days in May about her role in the affair and remains what is termed an "assisted witness", which means judges can summon her for further interrogation at any time.

The International Monetary Fund's executive board has repeatedly expressed confidence in Lagarde and said there is no reason for her to step aside from her duties while the corruption case is being investigated.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
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
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available