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IMF

IMF chief Lagarde to face trial over €400m payout

IMF chief Christine Lagarde will face trial on a charge of negligence over a whopping €4.3 million payout to tycoon Bernard Tapie.

IMF chief Lagarde to face trial over €400m payout

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde has been sent to trial over her handling of a massive state payout to French tycoon Bernard Tapie during her time as finance minister, a legal source said Thursday.

Lagarde had been charged with negligence in the case in which Tapie was awarded more than €400 million ($433 million) in a 2008 dispute with the Credit Lyonnais bank over the sale of sportswear giant Adidas in 1993.

Tapie was ordered to pay back the money at the beginning of this month.

A statement from the IMF said Lagarde would fight the trial order and that the organisation had confidence in her.

The International Monetary Fund's executive board, representing 188 member nations, “continues to express its confidence in the managing director's ability to effectively carry out her duties,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement.

Lagarde, who has headed the IMF since July 2011, was charged with negligence in the handling of the 2008 government payout to French tycoon Bernard Tapie during her tenure as finance minister.

Tapie was awarded more than 400 million euros ($433 million) in a 2008 dispute with the bank Credit Lyonnais over the sale of sportswear giant Adidas in 1993.

Since the opening of a French investigation into the handling of the Tapie case in August 2011, the IMF has steadfastly reaffirmed its confidence in Lagarde, whose mandate expires next July and who recently has said she is open to serving a second five-year term.

“The board will continue to be briefed on this matter,” Rice said.

 

ECONOMY

Make reforms while sun shines on world economy: Lagarde

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has urged France and other countries to push through reforms "while the sun is shining" on the global economy.

Make reforms while sun shines on world economy: Lagarde
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde. Photo: AFP

In an interview with France's Le Journal du Dimanche published on Sunday Lagarde said the strength of the global economic recovery had taken the IMF by surprise.

“In 2017, for the first time in a long time, we revised our growth forecasts upwards whereas previously we used to lower them,” she said.

Global growth of 3.6 percent was both “stronger and more widely shared” in 2017, she said, noting that developed economies were now growing again under their own steam and no longer merely being pulled along by demand in emerging markets.

Lagarde said the favourable climate lent itself to implementing reforms.

“When the sun is shining you should take advantage to fix the roof,” she said, using one of her favourite maxims.

This year's global growth is on a par with the average of the two decades leading up to the global financial crisis of 2007-2008.

The IMF has forecast a further slight improvement in 2018, to 3.7 percent.

In Lagarde's native France, seen for years as one of Europe's weak links, the recovery kicked in in earnest this year.

From 1.1 percent in 2016, growth is expected to rise to 1.9 percent in 2017 — still short of the 2.4 percent forecast for the eurozone as a whole but better than the 1.6 percent initially forecast in the eurozone's second-largest economy.

Centrist President Emmanuel Macron aims to consolidate the momentum and bring down stubbornly high unemployment with an ambitious programme of labour, tax and welfare reforms.

Lagarde said the changes were key to boosting France's credibility at a time when Macron is pushing for reforms at the European level, including closer integration among eurozone members.

The managing director of the IMF was France's finance minister in 2008, when the euro looked to be in serious jeopardy.

Nearly 10 years later, the currency is out of the woods.

But, Lagarde warned, “the mission has not been accomplished — and maybe never will — because Europe is not united on moving towards greater integration while maintaining national sovereignty.”